1811-1863 Born in Calcutta, he was the son of a servant of the East India Company who was of an old and respectable Yorkshire family. In 1816 his father died and he was sent home to England. Educated at Charterhouse, he went on to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1829 but spent only a year there. After travelling on the continent, he tried first the legal profession and then journalism but these came to nothing. By this time bad investments and other mistakes had divested him of his fortune and he needed a profession. Art was his next project, which involved studying in Paris and Rome. In 1836 he had married in Paris, returning to England the following year. He wrote for several magazines but his contributions to Punch were the hat first to gain public attention. The major turning point was the publication in monthly numbers of his best known novel Vanity Fair (1847–48). Pendennis, largely autobiographical, followed in 1848–50. Esmond (1852) is considered by some his masterpiece. It was followed by The Newcomes (1853) and the less successful The Virginians, a sequel to Esmond (1857–59). For some years he suffered spasms of the heart then suddenly died suddenly during the night of December 23, 1863. His wife had also been suffering ill health for some years. It has been written of him that “he was master of a style of great distinction and individuality, and ranks as one of the very greatest of English novelists”.