"Vanity Fair", an 1848 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray.
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Transcribed and proofread as part of a proofread of the month collaboration earlier this year, this version of Thackeray's classic replaced an incomplete text partially copied from Project Gutenberg. In addition to finishing the abandoned work, Wikisource is now able to offer the previously missing illustrations, as well as page scans for reference.
Subtitled "A novel without a hero", the book is a satire of mid-nineteenth century British society. It was initially serialised in twenty monthly pamphlets before being published as a complete novel, as was customary at the time. The story was acclaimed by critics even before the last instalment was issued, although some criticised its bleakness and, eventually, the downbeat ending. It is now considered a classic of English literature.
This month is the 150th anniversary of Thackeray's death.
While the present century was in its teens, and on one sun-shiny morning in June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour. A black servant, who reposed on the box beside the fat coachman, uncurled his bandy legs as soon as the equipage drew up opposite Miss Pinkerton's shining brass plate, and as he pulled the bell, at least a score of young heads were seen peering out of the narrow windows of the stately old brick house. Nay, the acute observer might have recognised the little red nose of good-natured Miss Jemima Pinkerton herself, rising over some geranium-pots in the window of that lady's own drawing-room.
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