HBLL celebrates William Thackeray’s 200th Birthday


English novelist William Thackeray, who wrote about many relevant social issues we face today, is having his 200th birthday celebrated. Works of his life can now be seen at the Harold B. Lee Library.

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An exhibit celebrating the 200th birthday of William Thackeray is on display in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections section of the Library.
The library is displaying an exhibit of his works through the end of July in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections foyer and reference room.

Russell C. Taylor, supervisor of reference services and department chair of Special Collections, said the books were first purchased in the 1960s by a bookseller from San Francisco named David Magee.

“We have one of the finest Victorian collections,” Taylor said.

The library contains many collections of antiques and artifacts that are put on display.

Jessica Drollette, a history major, played an important part in bringing about the Thackeray exhibit.

“They have a huge collection of him,” Drollette said. “There are different vaults that BYU has and there is a whole section of the vault dedicated to just Victorian things.”

Thackeray wrote satirical novels and many were a commentary of social behavior based on his own observations and experiences. One of the works considered to be the best among scholars is “Vanity Fair,” which is on display at the library.

Albert Winkler, one of the HBLL librarians, said “Vanity Fair”  is considered to be one of the finest books in the English language.

Drollette chose to showcase the Thackery exhibit because of Thackery’s association with another Victorian writer, Charles Dickens.

“He was a famous author, he was friends with Charles Dickens and they rivaled each other even though they had a friendship,” Drollette said. “They broke it off for a while, but then they came back together in the end. ”

Drollette said BYU students and other visitors can learn from Thackeray and his experiences. She said Thackeray’s life had hardships from his father dying to his wife losing her mind. However, she believes he was able to cope with tragedy.

“He was an optimist and he was able to be that because of his sense of humor,” Drollette said.

Drollette said Thackeray overcame his challenges through his writing.

“When he hit rock bottom is when he started writing about anything and everything,” Drollette said. “Then it just went up from there.”

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