The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Rock Villa [a.k.a. Thackerys House]    London Road  Tunbridge Wells  
Historical records

1839Tunbridge WellsTunbridge WellsRock VillaColbran's Tunbridge Wells

1860HistoryRock Villa [a.k.a. Thackerys House]

William Makepeace Thackeray was born on 18 July 1811 at Calcutta, the only child of Richmond Thackeray and Anne Becher who had married on 13th October 1810. Richard Thackeray had come to India at the age of 16 in 1797 where he worked for the East India Company until his early death in 1815. William returned to England one year later while his mother remained in India and subsequently remarried Major Henry William Carmichael-Smith. They returned to England in 1819.

William's early education was at Southampton and then Chiswick before he entered Charterhouse in 1822 where he remained until 1828. He matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1829 but left one year later without a degree. His early career activities were largely unsuccessful until he met Isabella Gethin Shawe whom he married on 20th August 1836. Three children (Anne Isabel, Jane and Harriet Maria) followed in the next three years but from 1840 onwards until her death Isabella became seriously depressed and mentally ill. William dedicated himself to his writing - Book of Snobs, Vanity Fair and The Virginians - published from 1846 until 1860 established him as one of England's foremost novelists. On 23rd December 1863 William Thackeray died from a stroke which, at the age of fifty-three, was entirely unexpected by his family, friends, and reading public. Some 7,000 people attended his funeral at Kensington Gardens and he was buried on 29th December at Kensal Green cemetery

Wiliiam Makepiece Thackeray's association with Tunbridge Wells commenced in 1823 when as a school boy he spent his summer holidays there and in The Virginians Thackeray uses Tunbridge Wells as the backlcloth to part of the novel. He returned in 1860 to stay at Rock Villa, now known as 'Thackeray's House', where he wrote Tunbridge Toys which he published as part of the Roundabout Papers in the Cornhill Magazine

1860HistoryRock Villa [a.k.a. Thackerys House]Tunbridge Toys
"I stroll over the Common and survey the beautiful purple hills around, twinkling with a thousand bright villas, which have sprung up over this charming ground since first I saw it. What an admirable scene of peace and plenty ! What a delicious air breathes over the heath, blows the cloud shadows across it, and murmurs through the full-clad trees ! Can the world show a land fairer, richer, more cheerful ? I see a portion of it when I look up from the window at which I write. But fair scene, green woods, bright terraces gleaming in sunshine, and purple clouds swollen with summer rain - nay, the very pages over which my head bends - disappear from before my eyes. They are looking backwards, back into forty years off, into a dark room, into a little house hard by on the Common here, in the Bartlemy-tide holidays. The parents have gone to town for two days; the house is all his own, his own and a grim old maidservant's, and a little boy is seated at night in the lonely drawing-room - poring over Manfroni, or the One-Handed Monk, so frightened that he scarcely dares to turn round."

3rd Apr 1881CensusHarriett Bates, F, Head, single, age 58, born London, occupation: annuitantHarriett Bates, annuitantRock Villa1881 Census
Tunbridge Wells, Kent

3rd Apr 1881CensusWilliam Jeffery, M, Head, married, age 60, born Tunbridge Wells, Kent; occupation: stone masonWilliam Jeffery, masonRock Villa1881 Census
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Henrietta Jeffery, F, Wife, married, age 48, born LondonHenrietta Jeffery

3rd Apr 1881CensusCaroline M. King, F, Head, married, age 36, born London; occupation: private income from dividendsCaroline M. King, private income from dividendsRock Villa1881 Census
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Ann F. King, F, Daughter, single, age 16, born Walmer, Kent; occupation: private income from dividendsAnn F. King
Victoria M. King, F, Daughter, age 6, born London; occupation: scholarVictoria M. King

c 1930Thackeray's HouseThackeray's House, Tunbridge WellsWilliam Makepeace ThackerayPrivate collection

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