Chapter 4


Thackeray, drawing of “Rebecca’s Farewell” for Chapter 1 of Vanity Fair. MS Hyde 93.


“Rebecca’s Farewell” in the published book. *EC85.T3255.848v

Thackeray. Original drawing for Vanity Fair: “Rebecca’s Farewell.” Ink, ca. 1846.

The illustration which appears in the novel’s first chapter was created from this sketch by Thackeray. In the memorable scene, Becky Sharp tosses a copy of Johnson’s Dictionary out of a carriage window, rejecting society’s idea of how her life should be defined.

While the novel’s subtitle announces that it is “without a hero” it may be that Thackeray intended it to be a novel with a heroine (or anti-heroine). Becky Sharp’s popularity has progressively increased since the novel’s publication; many dramatizations, on both stage and film, have overtly turned her into the main character (one of the most popular stage adaptations was titled not “Vanity Fair,” but “Becky Sharp”).

MS Hyde 93. Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, 2003.