In his preface to Pendennis Thackeray had described the novels he published in instalments as ‘a kind of confidential talk between writer and reader’ (xii, p. xxxv); and as more and more essayistic elements entered his fiction in the form of authorial or narratorial comment, it was only a question of time before he would join authors he admired—Montaigne, Addison, Steele, Charles Lamb—in proffering such ‘confidential talk’ in essay form. The new Cornhill Magazine provided an ideal forum for a series of papers in which a ‘Mr Roundabout’ offered its readers brief tales, relived experiences and reflections, in a personal yet subtly distanced way. Thackeray ceased to be editor of the Cornhill in March 1862; but his contributions continued until November 1863, one month before his death. Reminiscences of travel in German-speaking lands, allusions to German figures, history and literature, and fictions based on German legends or incorporating German material, inevitably surfaced in these Roundabout Papers.