London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1913. Original publisher's pictorial vellum with gilt to spine and front board. Pictorial endpapers. Boards slightly bowed and lacking silk ties. Some offsetting to endpapers and occasional light foxing not affecting illustrations. Number 38 of 350 copies signed by the illustrator, and complete with twenty mounted color plates with titled tissue-guards.
Considered by its author to be a novel without a hero, Vanity Fair follows the path of the social climbing Becky Sharp as she seeks to improve her position within the Victorian social strata. One of literature's most important early iterations of the female anti-hero, Miss Sharp helped to expose the truth that women were not merely domesticated angels but could be just as ambitious and driven as their male counterparts; and her foil Amelia reveals that even an apparent paragon of femininity was imperfect. A contemporary reviewer noted "Thakeray's theory of characterization proceeds generally on the assumtion that the acts of men and women are directed not by principle but by instincts...There is not a person in the book who excites the reader's respect, and not one who fails to exite his interest. The morbid quickness of the author's perceptions of the selfish element, even in his few amiable characters, is a constant source of surprise. The novel not only has no hero, but implies the non-existence of heroism" (Contemporary Atlantic Monthly review). A literary tour de force, transformed into a popular film starring Reese Witherspoon. The present version is beautifully illustrated with great humor by Lewis Christopher Edward Baumer (August 8, 1870 – October 25, 1963) the English caricaturist who worked for more than fifty years for the British magazine Punch. He illustrated or contributed illustrations to more than forty books between 1897 and 1936. Fine (Item #5136)