On 4 January 1844 Thackeray wrote in his diary: ‘Read in a silly book called L’Empire a good story about the first King of Wurtemberg’s wife: killed by her husband for adultery. “Frederic William born in 1734 (?) married in 1780 the Princess Caroline of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel, who died the 27 September 1788”. For the rest of the story see L’ Empire ou 10 ans sous Napoleon par un Chambellan. Paris. Allardin 1836. V. 1. 220’ (LPP ii. 139). This story fed into a novel that Thackeray was even then publishing in instalments in Fraser’s Magazine. Entitled The Luck of Barry Lyndon, it ran in Fraser’s from January to December 1844, and was later republished, in revised form, as The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon (1856). It is Thackeray’s finest work of fiction so far: a brilliant use of the ‘memoir’ form to let the narrator convict himself out of his own mouth while thinking he is gaining the reader’s assent to a conduct of life he, the narrator, finds just and reasonable. He has, however, keen observation and a good wit, so that he cannot, for long stretches, be written off as an ‘unreliable’ narrator. This applies particularly to many of his adventures in Germany.