Every year, when winter descends on the country, one of English literature’s great works always finds itself pulled down from my bookshelf: namely, William Thackeray’s immortal Vanity Fair. The reason is simple: no degree of chilliness in the air can extinguish the book’s incredible warmth and humour. It is a tonic.Being an accepted classic, Vanity Fair is no doubt familiar to many readers. But its indelible characters and set-pieces still deserve mention. From the sly anti-heroine Becky Sharp to the gentle-mannered Dobbin — and from the mistreatment of a dictionary to the battlefield death of one character (I won’t reveal whom!) — there is not one component of the story which detracts from the whole.