Ruthless social climber and irrepressible anti-hero Becky Sharp will do anything to raise her position in Society, from impoverished orphan to woman of means. Clever, lively and resourceful, Becky is the total opposite of her naive and sentimental schoolmate Amelia Sedley, a pampered yet good-natured girl from a wealthy family.
As both women pursue love and life in London, against the background of the Napoleonic Wars, Thackeray paints a vivid portrait of decadent Regency England and satirises its corruption and flaws to delightful effect.
William Makepeace Thackeray's witty literary classic Vanity Fair is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, and follows anti-heroine and ruthless social climber Becky Sharp as she attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society. Her story takes her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, breaking heart and fortunes as she goes.
ITV's new adaptation of will be one of the biggest drama series of 2018: its script comes from BAFTA-nominated writer Gwyneth Hughes, the series is co-produced by leading production companies Mammoth Screen and Amazon Studios, and Olivia Cooke - star of Steven Spielberg's hit blockbuster Ready Player One - plays Thackeray's timeless heroine Becky Sharp.
Read the book before you see the series, then devour it all over again.
A crow, who had flown away with a cheese from a dairy-window, sate perched on a tree looking down at a great big frog in a pool underneath him. The frog's hideous large eyes were goggling out of his head in a manner which appeared quite ridiculous to the old blackamoor, who watched the splay-footed slimy wretch with that peculiar grim humour belonging to crows. Not far from the frog a fat ox was browsing; whilst a few lambs frisked about the meadow, or nibbled the grass and buttercups there.
Who should come in to the farther end of the field but a wolf? He was so cunningly dressed up in sheep's clothing, that the very lambs did not know Master Wolf; nay, one of them, whose dam the wolf had just eaten, after which he had thrown her skin over his shoulders, ran up innocently towards the devouring monster, mistaking him for her mamma.
"He, he!" says a fox, sneaking round the hedge-paling, over which the tree grew, whereupon the crow was perched looking down on the frog, who was staring with his goggle eyes fit to burst with envy, and croaking abuse at the ox. "How absurd those lambs are! Yonder silly little knock-kneed baah-ling does not know the old wolf dressed in the sheep's fleece. He is the same old rogue who gobbled up little Red Riding Hood's grandmother for lunch, and swallowed little Red Riding Hood for supper. Tirez la bobinette et la chevillette cherra. He, he!"
An owl that was hidden in the hollow of the tree woke up. "Oho, Master Fox," says she, "I cannot see you, but I smell you! If some folks like lambs, other folks like geese," says the owl.
In the number of FRASER'S MAGAZINE for January 1844 appeared the first instalment of 'THE LUCK OF BARRY LYNDON, ESQ., A ROMANCE OF THE LAST CENTURY, by FitzBoodle,' and the story continued to appear month by month--with the exception of October--up to the end of the year, when the concluding portion was signed 'G. S. FitzBoodle.' FITZBOODLE'S CONFESSIONS, it should be added, had appeared occasionally in the magazine during the years immediately precedent, so that the pseudonym was familiar to FRASER'S readers. The story was written, according to its author's own words, 'with a great deal of dulness, unwillingness and labour,' and was evidently done as the instalments were required, for in August he wrote 'read for "B. L." all the morning at the club,' and four days later of '"B. L." lying like a nightmare on my mind.' The journey to the East--which was to give us in literary results NOTES OF A JOURNEY FROM CORNHILL TO GRAND CAIRO--was begun with BARRY LYNDON yet unfinished, for at Malta the author noted on the first three days of November--'Wrote Barry but slowly and with great difficulty.' 'Wrote Barry with no more success than yesterday.' 'Finished Barry after great throes late at night.' In the number of Fraser's for the following month, as I have said, the conclusion appeared. A dozen years later, in 1856, the story formed the first part of the third volume of Thackeray's MISCELLANIES, when it was called MEMOIRS OF BARRY LYNDON, ESQ., WRITTEN BY HIMSELF. Since then, it has nearly always been issued with other matter, as though it were not strong enough to stand alone, or as though the importance of a work was mainly to be gauged by the number of pages to be crowded into one cover. The scheme of the present edition fortunately allows fitting honour to be done to the memoirs of the great adventurer.
Stephen Fry narrates this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of the famous Victorian comic novel.
Orphan Becky Sharp and wealthy Amelia Sedley are best friends at Miss Pinkerton's Academy for Young Ladies. On leaving school, ambitious, social-climbing Becky looks for a rich man to support her, while the sweet-natured Amelia meets her old friend Dobbin, who is instantly captivated.
Becky takes a job in the service of Sir Pitt Crawley, and uses her charm to hook his dashing son. However, marriage to Captain Rawdon of the Guards does not provide the fortune she seeks. Meanwhile, Amelia rejects the faithful Dobbin and becomes engaged to the handsome George Osborne – but destiny has some shocks in store for her, too.
As time goes by, the girls' fortunes rise and fall. War, financial disaster and the ruin of her reputation leave the resourceful Beckyundaunted, but Amelia finds it harder to bear fate's blows. It will be many years before their story is played out, and their futures finally decided...
William Makepeace Thackeray's classic satire of passion and ambition, first published in 1847 and 1848, is a deliciously ironic portrait of English society and its mores. This engaging 2004 radio production, published for the first time on audio, features a distinguished cast including Emma Fielding as Becky Sharp, Katy Cavanagh as Amelia and Toby Jones as Jos Sedley.
Duration: 5 hours approx
Al Murray stars in this anarchic BBC radio reboot of Thackeray’s groundbreaking satirical novel
Comedian Al Murray plays his great-great-great grandfather William Makepeace Thackeray as the unreliable narrator in this radical makeover of his ancestor’s celebrated satire on class, sex, money, hypocrisy and snobbery in nineteenth-century England.
As the curtain rises on our ‘story without a hero’, moneyless Becky Sharp leaves school with her upper-class best friend Amelia Sedley. Clever, cunning and ambitious, Becky is determined to make her way in Regency society – and she’ll trample on anyone who gets in her way.
When her plan to marry Amelia’s brother Jos falls through, she snares the aristocratic Rawdon Crawley – but her hopes of riches are dashed when the couple are disinherited by his wealthy aunt. Meanwhile, Amelia marries the dashing George Osborne, breaking the heart of her devoted admirer, William Dobbin.
But war is fast approaching, and as Napoleon advances towards Waterloo, where will the winds of destiny blow our players? And will the ever-resourceful Becky succeed in achieving her desires?
Pacey, contemporary, fresh and funny, this sparkling dramatisation features Ellie White as Becky, Helen O’Hara as Amelia, Blake Ritson as Rawdon, Rupert Hill as George, Thom Tuck as Jos and Graeme Hawley as Dobbin.
Cast and credits
Thackeray (narrator)........................Al Murray
Becky Sharp........................Ellie White
Amelia Sedley........................Helen O’Hara
Rawdon Crawley........................Blake Ritson
Jos Sedley........................Thom Tuck
George Osborne........................Rupert Hill
Mrs Sedley/Mrs Bute/Aunty Crawley/Jane/Rawdon Junior........................Emma Gregory
Mr Sedley/Sir Pitt/Lord Steyne........................Jonathan Keeble
Mr Osborne/Bute/General Tufto........................Malcolm Raeburn
Lady Bareacres/Miss Briggs/George Junior........................Fiona Clarke
Written by William Makepeace Thackeray
Dramatised by Jim Poyser, with additional material by Al Murray
A BBC Radio Drama North production
Produced and directed by Gary Brown
First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 26 May-9 June 2019