Chapter 3


Thackeray, “The Common Lot,” from The History of Samuel Titmarsh and the Great Hoggarty Diamond. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1849.

“The Common Lot” from Samuel Titmarsh and the Great Hoggarty Diamond (London: Bradbury & Evans, 1849)

While the loss of a child was not an infrequent occurrence in Victorian England, 8-month-old Jane’s death in 1839 profoundly affected her parents. Thackeray would remember the anniversary of her death each year for the rest of his life. Events from his own life often appeared in his fiction; his harrowing loss of Jane informed this scene from his short novel, The History of Samuel Titmarsh and the Great Hoggarty Diamond, first published in Fraser’s in 1841. The title of the illustration points to its frequency in society while the illustration itself shows how devastating this common experience must have been.

The scene affected critics as well. A reviewer in Ladies’ Book wrote, “A most humorous work by Thackeray - very droll and very good. There is one scene in the book varying from its general character, that surpasses in beauty and pathos anything we have ever read by Dickens. This is a bold assertion, but it is true.”

*EC85.T3255.848gb (A). Gift of William B. Osgood Field, 1942 .