The quintessential satire of life in early nineteenth-century Britain, Vanity Fair is a panoramic tour of English social strata, charting the rise and fall of the opportunistic Becky Sharp. Rejected by several publishers before finding a place with Bradbury and Evans, this 'novel without a hero' first appeared as a popular serial. The twenty parts were finally printed together in 1848, incorporating the author's own illustrations. Although William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63) was not a debut author, this was the first of his works to bear his name on the title page; the vast scope of the novel gained him immediate critical acclaim, though reviewers often expressed misgivings about the dark portrayal of human nature. In response, Thackeray wrote that 'we are for the most part an abominably foolish and selfish people. I want to leave everybody dissatisfied and unhappy at the end of the story.'