About the Author
Popular British author, who described realistically Victorian world. Trollope's best known stories were set in the imaginary English county of Barsetshire. In his autobiography (1883) Trollope wrote, that the novelist's task is "to make his readers so intimately acquainted with his characters that the creation of his brain should be to them speaking, moving, living, human creatures." Trollope is notable for having developed the chronicle form of fiction. The Barsetshire novels were the first serial fiction in English literature.
Anthony Trollope was born at 16 Keppel Street in London. His father, a fellow of New College, Oxford, failed both as a lawyer and as a farmer. The family's poverty made Trollope miserable at the rigid public social hierarchy in Harrow and Winchester. "It is hard to think of any good writer who had as wretched a time and had to endure it for so long," C. P. Snow wrote in Trollope (1975). Sometimes his parents could not afford to pay their son's school fees. After financial troubles the family moved to Belgium, but returned back with mother and children when the father died. His mother, Frances Trollope (1780-1863), took her three youngest children to America to assist in the founding of the city of New Harmony, Memphis. The venture failed, and she traveled for fifteen months in America. In 1832, back in England, she published Domestic Manners of the Americans - she was at that time 52. The work gained success, and she could support her family through her writing. Trollope has recalled that some of her best works were born during the tragic period when her husband and daughter died.
Trollope joined at the age of 19 the post office, where he worked as a clerk. In 1841, at the age of 26, he became a postal surveyor in Ireland, and used later his experiences in many novels. Trollope spent in this work for 33 years. After marrying Rose Heseltine in 1844, Trollope set up a house at Clonmel and started his literary career. Soon after marrying Trollope began writing his spare time to earn extra money. He also began to speculate about the health of his wife and wrote to Miss Dorothea Sankey, another Irish woman of his acquaintance: "Should anything happen to her, will you supply her place - as soon as a proper period of decent mourning is over?" Eventually Rose Heseltine outlived her husband.
On Post Office business Trollope traveled in Egypt (1858), the West Indies (1858-59), and the United States (1861-62, 1868). "The marine people - the captain and his satellites - are bound to provide me; and all that they have provided is yams, salt pork, biscuit, and bad coffee," complained Trollope on his ocean voyage to Cuba in 1859. "I should be starved but for the small ham - would that it had been a large one - which I thoughtfully purchased in Kingston..." (from The West Indies and the Spanish Main, 1859). By the end of his professional career Trollope had became a successful civil servant. Among his achievements is the introduction of the red British mail boxes for letters, known as pillar-boxes. Before the mailboxes one had to go to the Post Office to mail a letter.
In 1859 he moved back to London and resigned from the civil service in 1867. His election campaign as a Liberal parliamentary candidate was unsuccessful, but about 1869 Trollope began his creative late period, publishing psychological and sharply satirical novels. Between the years 1867 and 1870 he edited the St Paul's Magazine. In 1871-72 he traveled in Australia and New Zealand, again in Australia in 1875, and in South Africa in 1877.
Trollope regularly produced 1000 words an hour before breakfast - his page contained 250 words. "Perhaps the main characteristic of writers like Jane Austen and Trollope is their complete non-literariness", noted Ford Madox Ford in The March of Literature (1938). "Indeed, you would say that they are without the passion to write that distinguishes a Balzac, a Dickens, a Thackeray or even a genuine artist like Gautier." Trollope spent three productive hours a day at his desk, before a quire of paper, pen in hand. "I always began my task by reading the work of the day before," he wrote in An Autobiography (1883). "I would strongly recommend this practice to all tyros in writing". Rewriting Trollope considered "a waste of time." In the evening he enjoyed playing whist at the Garrick Club.
Trollope's first book, The Macdermots of Ballycloran, was published in 1847. The powerful story depicted a doomed Irish family. However, it took 12 years before Trollope started to make money with his writing. With his fourth novel, The Warden (1855), which was set in the imaginary English county Barsetshire, Trollope established his reputation as a writer. The story told about a clergyman whose gentle life is upset when he is accused of misusing money meant for the old people's home he looks after. The Warden was conceived according to the author while wandering round Salisbury cathedral on a summer evening. It was followed by the popular 'Chronicles of Barsetshire', Barchester Towers (1857), Doctor Thorne (1858), Framley Parsonage (1861), The Small House at Allington (1864), and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1967), which the author considered his finest novel. The series with realistic presentation of middle-class domestic relationship was received with enthusiasm by the mid-Victorian reading public. With humour and gentle satire, the author told stories of ordinary men and women with human weaknesses.
Palliser series was about an invented family of nobles, in which Trollope was concerned with political issues and mechanics of power, started in 1864 with the novel Can You Forgive Her? It continued with Phineas Finn (1869), The Eustace Diamonds (1873), Phineas Redux (1876), The Prime Minister (1876), and The Duke's Children (1880). One of the central characters, Plantagenet Palliser (later Lord Omnium), had first appeared in The Small House at Allington. Trollope deepened the presentation of the dry, ambitious politician and his brilliant wife Glencora, and later considered that they were the two characters on whom his reputation with posterity would rest. The Way We Live Now (1874-75) was a social satire, which has been compared to Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1848). Trollope wrote it after returning to England from the colonies. The central character is Augustus Melmotte, an Austrian Jewish financier who moves to London and and becomes the center of financial and political intrigues.
The Barset novels and Palliser series took together over twenty years of Trollope's writing life. His popularity was at its peak during the 1860s, when he lived at Waltham House, Hertfordshire. Especially readers admired his detailed description of social life and vivid psychological portraits of his characters. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that Trollope's novels are "solid, substantial, written on the strength of beef and through the inspiration of ale..." Trollope himself boasted that he produced novels with factory-like methodicalness. Henry James regarded it as a "betrayal of a sacred office and a "terrible crime", when Trollope admitted to his readers that the events he narrates have not really happened, and that he can give his narrative any turn the reader like best.
Trollope published some 40 novels, short stories, travel books, and essays. As a writer his work continued in more realistic vein the literary tradition on William Thackeray, of whom he wrote a study in 1879. Trollope lived in London from 1872 and at Harting Grange, Sussex, until 1882. He had a private library of 5,000 volumes, which was dearer to him "even than the horses." Trollope died in London on December 6, 1882. His last novel, Mr. Scarborough's Family, was published posthumously in 1883. During the Second World War Trollope's novels were read primarily as romances but from the 1970s, critical revaluation of the author's contribution to the history of the novel has taken place, and Trollope's reputation as a moralist has risen greatly.
Most author biographies courtesy of Author's Calendar. Used with permission.