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Primary Texts

A forgotten masterpiece, William Makepeace Thackeray’s first novel, Catherine, has languished in obscurity, in part due to its author’s own unhappiness with it. He had set out to write a satire of the Newgate novels of the 1830’s with their glorification of criminals, but instead turned out a tale of a roguish heroine much in the mould of the equally roguish heroine of Vanity Fair: Becky Sharp. Also like Vanity Fair, this novel provides some wry social commentary through the mouth of its cynical narrator. And it gives an interesting portrayal of female agency: the heroine orchestrates the events of the story, until her downfall at the end.

This edition, by Sheldon Goldfarb, provides a variety of contextual materials, including annotations, reproductions of some of the accounts of the real-life crime on which Thackeray based his story, and essays providing historical background

Date published: 

March 2022

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