William Makepeace Thackeray

On a pillar in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey is a white marble bust, with a brown marble base, to novelist and essayist William Makepeace Thackeray. It is placed near Addison's statue and is by the sculptor Carlo, Baron Marochetti. A petition to the Dean of Westminster for permission to erect a memorial was signed by Charles Dickens and many other authors and artists of the day. The monument was paid for in 1865. The inscription reads:

WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY born 18 July 1811 died 24 Dec: 1863

William was born in Calcutta in India, son of Richmond Thackeray and his wife Anne (Becher). After his father's death he returned to England and was educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Unfortunately he gambled away some of his inheritance and started working as a journalist and also studied art.

In 1836 he married Isabella Shawe who eventually had to be taken into care due to mental health problems. Of their children who reached maturity Anne later became Lady Ritchie and Harriet married Leslie Stephen. In the 1840s he started to make his name as a writer and Vanity Fair established his reputation. He edited the Cornhill Magazine and also wrote for Punch. His other well known works are Pendennis and The Virginians. He is buried in Kensal Green cemetery in London.

Further reading for his family

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


18th July 1811


24th December 1863




South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type


Material Type


William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray by Jesse Harrison Whitehurst

[Public domain or CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster