Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*London. Great Britain’s capital and leading city, where members of the Newcome family live. The various addresses cited in the text provide a map of the Newcomes’ social positions and shifting fortunes. For example, the colonel’s half-brothers establish their families in Park Lane, Queen Street, and the slightly less fashionable Bryanstone Square to the north. The living acquired by the Reverend Charles Honeyman, the colonel’s brother-in-law, is also in Mayfair, on Denmark Street, while his lodgings are in Walpole Street. The colonel himself resides for a time at 120 Fitzroy Square, on the edge of Marylebone, which is considerably farther north than Bryanstone Square; however, Clive contrives to live for a while in Hanover Square on the east edge of Mayfair. After the colonel’s financial disaster, however, Clive settles in Howland Street, which is close to Fitzroy Square but considerably less grand.


*Clapham. Village near London in which the colonel’s father settles on first arriving in London. He lives in a cottage with his first wife, but moves into the Hobson family “mansion” when he marries his employer’s daughter and heiress, Sophia Alethea Hobson—after whom, according to the story’s fictitious claims, several local terraces and minor roads are named. When the novel was written, Clapham was in the process of being devoured by Greater London’s expansion, because it had become the site of a major railway junction.


Newcome. Manufacturing town situated between Liverpool and...

(The entire section is 658 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Ferris, Ina. “The Way of the World: The Newcomes.” In William Makepeace Thackeray, edited by Herbert Sussman. Boston: Twayne, 1983. Includes brief commentaries by Thackeray’s contemporaries, as well as one by Thackeray himself. Discusses Thackeray’s self-conscious realism and the way in which his fiction responded to the society in which he lived.

Harden, Edgar F. The Emergence of Thackeray’s Serial Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1979. Discussion of the serial structure of five novels, including The Newcomes, with particular focus on Thackeray’s manuscripts and his compositional process. Explains how the serial installments shaped the forms of the novels.

Hardy, Barbara. The Exposure of Luxury: Radical Themes in Thackeray. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1972. Discusses aspects of Thackeray’s social criticism and points out themes that illustrate his preoccupation with the surface manners of his society. Concludes that self-consciousness and lack of moral optimism are closely related as aspects of Thackeray’s radical thinking.

Ray, Gordon. The Buried Life: A Study of the Relation Between Thackeray’s Fiction and His Personal History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1952. Comprehensive biocritical study of Thackeray’s state of mind while writing the novel. An excellent resource for the serious researcher.

Ray, Gordon. “The Newcomes.” In Thackeray: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Alexander Welsh. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Discusses the structural importance in the novel of the main themes, as well as how Thackeray reflects his disillusionment with his world.