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A collection of quotes by William Makepeace Thackeray on inspiration, humor, society, satire, vanity, society, family, beauty, love, hate and revenge.

75 Top William Makepeace Thackeray Quotes

Quick Facts

Famous As: Author & Novelist

Born On: July 18, 1811

Died On: December 24, 1863

Born In: Kolkata

Died At Age: 52

William Makepeace Thackeray was an English author, novelist, literary critic and satirist, who lived in the 19th century and went on to become one of the best known authors of the time. Thackeray is best known for his novel ‘Vanity Fair’ published in 1848 which satirized the upper class of English society of the time and is regarded as one of the most accurate depictions of that era. Earlier in life, Thackeray had squandered his inheritance on gambling and failed ventures, which forced him to take up writing in order to make a living. He worked for ‘The Foreign Quarterly Review’, ‘Fraser’s Magazine’, ‘Punch’ and ‘The Morning Chronicle’ among others. ‘Fraser’s Magazine’ had also published two of his works of fiction titled ‘The Luck of Barry Lyndon’ and ‘Catherine’. However, his fortunes changed completely following the publication of ‘Vanity Fair’ and readers compared his work with that of the legendary Charles Dickens. Thackeray could not replicate the success of ‘Vanity Fair’ with his subsequent novels but some of the notable ones include ‘The Newcomers’, ‘Pendennis’, ‘The Adventures of Philip’ and ‘Bildungsroman’. Thackeray was also a man of sharp and ironic wit that made him such a successful writer of satire. Whatever he has said or written have become quite famous as his quotes and thoughts and is quoted extensively. His thoughts and quotations tackle the most serious and sensitive topics in a lighter tone. Here are some of the best quotations and thoughts from William Makepeace Thackeray’s life and works.
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Life is a mirror: if you frown at it, it frowns back; if you smile, it returns the greeting.

William Makepeace Thackeray

To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Good humor may be said to be one of the very best articles of dress one can wear in society.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?

William Makepeace Thackeray

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.

William Makepeace Thackeray

All is vanity, nothing is fair.

William Makepeace Thackeray

If a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relative to do the business.

William Makepeace Thackeray

People hate as they love, unreasonably.

William Makepeace Thackeray

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen to write.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Are not there little chapters in everybody's life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?

William Makepeace Thackeray

In the midst of friends, home, and kind parents, she was alone.

William Makepeace Thackeray

The wicked are wicked, no doubt, and they go astray and they fall, and they come by their deserts; but who can tell the mischief which the very virtuous do?

William Makepeace Thackeray

A good laugh is sunshine in a house

William Makepeace Thackeray

The moral world has no particular objection to vice, but an insuperable repugnance to hearing vice called by its proper name.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Bravery never goes out of fashion.

William Makepeace Thackeray

A woman with fair opportunities, and without an absolute hump, may marry WHOM SHE LIKES.

William Makepeace Thackeray

It is better to love wisely, no doubt: but to love foolishly is better than not to be able to love at all

William Makepeace Thackeray

Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?-Come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.

William Makepeace Thackeray

...the greatest tyrants over women are women.

William Makepeace Thackeray

One of the great conditions of anger and hatred is, that you must tell and believe lies against the hated object, in order, as we said, to be consistent.

William Makepeace Thackeray

A person can't help their birth.

William Makepeace Thackeray

I would rather make my name then inherit it.

William Makepeace Thackeray

It is the ordinary lot of people to have no friends if they themselves care for nobody

William Makepeace Thackeray

A lady who sets her heart upon a lad in uniform must prepare to change lovers pretty quickly, or her life will be but a sad one.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Some cynical Frenchman has said that there are two parties to a love-transaction: the one who loves and the other who condescends to be so treated.

William Makepeace Thackeray

The little cares, fears, tears, timid misgivings, sleepless fancies of I don't know how many days and nights, were forgotten under one moment's influence of that familiar, irresistible smile.

William Makepeace Thackeray

The two most engaging powers of a good author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.

William Makepeace Thackeray

She lived in her past life- these relics and remembrances of dead affection were all that was left her in the world.

William Makepeace Thackeray

When one fib becomes due as it were, you must forge another to take up the old acceptance; and so the stock of your lies in circulation inevitably multiplies, and the danger of detection increases every day.

William Makepeace Thackeray

If a man has committed wrong in life, I don't know any moralist more anxious to point his errors out to the world than his own relations...

William Makepeace Thackeray

Perhaps all early love affairs ought to be strangled or drowned, like so many blind kittens.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair is a very vain, wicked, foolish place, full of all sorts of humbugs and falsenesses and pretensions.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Follow your honest convictions, and stay strong.

William Makepeace Thackeray

The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.

William Makepeace Thackeray

If people only made prudent marriages, what a stop to population there would be!

William Makepeace Thackeray

Money has only a different value in the eyes of each.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Let the man who has to make his fortune in life remember this maxim. Attacking is his only secret. Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beat you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb.

William Makepeace Thackeray

A clever, ugly man every now and then is successful with the ladies, but a handsome fool is irresistible.

William Makepeace Thackeray

She had not character enough to take to drinking, and moaned about, slip-shod and in curl-papers, all day.

William Makepeace Thackeray

It was in the reign of George II. that the above-named personages lived and quarrelled ; good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now

William Makepeace Thackeray

I can't help always falling upon it, and cry out with particular loudness and wailing, and become especially melancholy, when I see a dead love tied to a live love.

William Makepeace Thackeray

I have long gone about with a conviction on my mind that I had a work to do—a Work, if you like, with a great W; a Purpose to fulfil; ... a Great Social Evil to Discover and to Remedy.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Here is a minute. It may be my love is dead, but here is a minute to kneel over the grave and pray by it.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt, are not these the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world?

William Makepeace Thackeray

What a charming reconciler and peacemaker money us!

William Makepeace Thackeray

At certain periods of life, we live years of emotion in a few weeks, and look back on those times as on great gaps between the old life and the new.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Oh, be humble, my brother, in your prosperity! Whose virtue is a deficiency of temptation, whose success may be a chance, whose rank may be an ancestor's accident, whose prosperity is very likely a satire.

William Makepeace Thackeray

You must not judge hastily or vulgarly of Snobs: to do so shows that you are yourself a Snob.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Cheerfulness means a contented spirit, a pure heart, a kind and loving disposition; it means humility and ~ charity, a generous appreciation of others, and a modest opinion of self.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Mark to yourself the gradual way in which you have been prepared for, and are now led by an irresistible necessity to enter upon your great labour.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Time has dealt kindly with that stout officer, as it does ordinarily with men who have good stomachs and good tempers, and are not perplexed over much by fatigue of the brain.

William Makepeace Thackeray

A gentleman sitting in spectacles before an old ledger, and writing down pitiful remembrances of his own condition, is a quaint and ridiculous object.

William Makepeace Thackeray

... nobody does anything for nothing. ... it is the ordinary lot of people to have no friends if they themselves care for nobody.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Long brooding over those lost pleasures exaggerates their charm and sweetness.

William Makepeace Thackeray

I knew all along that the prize I had set my life on was not worth the winning.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Your comedy and mine will have been played then, and we shall be removed

William Makepeace Thackeray

...to be skillful in domestic duties was surely one of the most charming of woman's qualities.

William Makepeace Thackeray

..the dark walks, so favourable to the interviews of young lovers

William Makepeace Thackeray

And by these wonderful circumstances I was once more free again: and I kept my resolution then made, never to fall more into the hands of any recruiter, and henceforth and for ever to be a gentleman.

William Makepeace Thackeray

[As they say in the old legends]Before a man goes to the devil himself, he sends plenty of other souls thither.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Are not there little chapters in everybody’s life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?

William Makepeace Thackeray

He was always thinking of his brother's soul, or of the souls of those who differed with him in opinion: it is a sort of comfort which many of the serious give themselves.

William Makepeace Thackeray

The stiff-backed prig, with his dandified airs and West End swagger.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children; and here was one who was worshipping a stone!

William Makepeace Thackeray

In a word, in adversity she was the best of comforters, in good fortune the most troublesome of friends...

William Makepeace Thackeray

Mother is God in the eyes of a child.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Lumea e o oglinda care ofera inapoi fiecaruia reflectia propriului chip. Daca te incrunti se incrunta si ea inapoi spre tine, daca razi devine si ea o companie vesela si placuta

William Makepeace Thackeray

His first and only love, whom he had adored ever since when? – ever since yesterday, ever since for ever.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Mr Moss's courtyard is railed in like a cage, lest the gentlemen who are boarding with him should take a fancy to escape from his hospitality.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Charming Alnaschar visions! It is the happy privilege of youth to construct you, and many a fanciful creature besides Rebecca Sharp has indulged in these delightful daydreams ere now!

William Makepeace Thackeray

They talked about each others’ houses, and characters, and families--just as the Joneses do about the Smiths.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Oh, brother wearers of motley, are there not moments when one grows sick of grinning and trembling and the jingling of cap and bells?

William Makepeace Thackeray