William Thomas Beckford of Fonthill is best known as the author of the oriental tale, Vathek. He was also a writer and performer of music, a collector of books, decorative arts, Old Masters, and contemporary painters, and the designer (both exterior and interior) of the magnificent Gothic mansion, Fonthill Abbey, in Wiltshire and of Monserrate near Sintra in Portugal.
Beckford was born in 1760 to great but conflicting expectations. His father was a prominent Whig and Lord Mayor of London. His godfather was the Earl of Chatham, William Pitt, the great prime minister who won for Great Britain a huge overseas empire in the Treaty of Paris, 1763. His mother, née Maria Hamilton, was granddaughter of the sixth Earl of …
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Graham, Kenneth W.. "William Beckford". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 November 2004
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