London: Bradbury & Evans, 1848. Octavo, measuring 8 x 5 inches: xvi, 624. Early twentieth-century polished calf, boards triple-ruled in gilt, raised bands, spine compartments ruled and decorated in gilt, red and green morocco spine labels, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Frontispiece, illustrated title page, 38 full-page plates, and 150 wood-engraved illustrations throughout text. A few faint scratches to rear board.
First edition of Thackeray’s comic masterpiece, illustrated by the author. “A novel without a hero,” Vanity Fair follows the entangled adventures of two school friends, the gentle, trusting Amelia Sedley and the calculating Becky Sharp, as they come of age during the Napoleonic Wars. “Are not there little chapters in everybody's life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history? Let us then step into the coach with the Russell-square party, and be off to the Gardens.” First issue, with the heading on page 1 in rustic type, the woodcut of the debauched Marquis of Steyne on 336 (suppressed in later issues, as based too obviously on the late Lord Hertford), and “Mr. Pitt” for “Sir Pitt” on 453. A fine copy, splendidly bound by Riviere & Son.