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Title: Thackeray's readings in eighteenth century literature for Henry Esmond
Author: Dhan, A. K. C.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1962
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Since its publication in October 1852, the reviewers of Henry Esmond have constantly praised Thackeray for the historical learning end research exhibited in the novel. There have, however, been no serious ,attempts at an investigation of Thackeray's source-books for Henry Esmond . This thesis is primarily concerned with such an investigation. Although several editions of Esmond have appeared since 1852, only two of its editors, T. C. Snows and William Snow, have tried to ascertain the veracity of the historical details introduced in the novel. Some help in the search for Thackeray's authorities is derived from the notes supplied by them but the editors themselves are not interested in such a search. In their preface: they write: "... we must have fallen into countless errors, many of them in the attempt to correct Thackeray ... ," and again: "One obligation is constant, sometimes named, more often unnamed, and has a special appropriateness to Thackeray-- that to the Dictionary of National Biography. How Thackeray would have loved it, if he could have lived to see it." Two other works, to which T. C. Snow and William Snow make several references while discussing the historical background of Desmond, are Dobson's Richard Steele and Myon's History of Britain during the reign of Anne. Both these books were published after the death of Thackeray. R. L. Forsythe also, in his book A Noble Rake, presents 'a study in the Historical Background of Thackeray's "Henry Esmond". But in reality, the scope of the book is not as wide. Forsythe writes in his preface: "...I have attempted to investigate every incident and historical person mentioned in those passages of Esmond wherein Lord Mohun figures." As Mohun makes only a few appearances in Esmond, most of the historical details introduced in it ere left untouched by Forsythe. Besides, once again, no attempts are made to trace Thackeray's source-books. By far the most important book, among those upon which Forsythe draws, is Luttrell's A Brief Relation. Luttrell's book was published in 1857, five years after Desmond made its appearance. It may however, be mentioned that the manuscript of A Brief Relation was in the library of All Soul's College, Oxford, and was used by Macaulay in his History of England. But although Thackeray had read the first two volumes of The History of England prior to the writing of Desmond, there is no evidence to prove that he himself made use of the manuscript. As already suggested, a. few of the works upon which Thackeray appears to have drawn for Desmond, have been referred to by T. G. Snow and William Snow, and also by Forsythe. Such references have been carefully re-examined by the present writer.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available