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Dr Wortle's School (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Anthony Trollope , Mick Imlah
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 April 1999 Penguin Classics
Mr Peacocke, a Classical scholar, has come to Broughtonshire with his beautiful American wife to live as a schoolmaster. But when the blackmailing brother of her first husband - a reprobate from Louisiana - appears at the school gates, a dreadful secret is revealed and the county is scandalized. Ostracised by the community, the pair seem trapped in a hopeless situation - until the combative but warm-hearted headmaster of the school, Dr Wortle, offers his support, and Mr Peacocke embarks upon a journey to America that he hopes will lay to rest the accusations once and for all. A perceptive exploration of Victorian morality, Dr Wortle's School (1881) also contains echoes of Trollope's own life, and his personal affection for the vivacious Bostonian Kate Field.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140434046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140434040
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) was born in London to a bankrupt barrister father and a mother who, as a well-known writer, supported the family. Trollope enjoyed considerable acclaim both as a novelist and as a senior civil servant in the Post Office. He published more than forty novels and many short stories that are regarded by some as among the greatest of nineteenth-century fiction.

Product Description

About the Author

Anthony Trollope (1815 - 1882) enjoyed considerable acclaim as a novelist during his lifetime, publishing over forty novels and many short stories. The Warden, the first of his novels to achieve success was succeeded by the sequence of 'Barsetshire novels' and the six brilliant Palliser novels. His novels have remained well-loved today. Mick Imlah, formerly Junior Lecturer in English at Magdalen College, Oxford, is a published poet and works at the TLS.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The Rev. Jeffrey Wortle, DD, was a man much esteemed by others, - and by himself. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Didier TOP 500 REVIEWER
I must confess that I am a great Trollope-lover, having read everything by him that I could get my hands on, and though I liked some better than others there is not a single novel by him that I would not gladly re-read given the time (but there's the rub of course). So obviously, this will not be, not even remotely, an objective review, but having said that: is any review, when it comes to fiction?

'Dr. Wortle's School' is perhaps the shortest Trollope-novel (a mere 270 pages), and the story's easily summarized: Dr. Wortle is not only a curate but also runs a private boarding school for young boys, and when he engages Dr. Peacocke as a headmaster and his American wife as a caretaker he is soon eminently pleased with them. However, the Peacockes socially do not mix with other people, and before long it appears there is a dreadful secret in their past: they were married believing Mrs. Peacocke's first husband dead when afterwards, it turned out he was anything but... The neighbourhood, Dr. Wortle's bishop, and several of the boys' parents are scandalized but Dr. Wortle himself, having learned the details of Mr. Peacocke himself, comes to his defense. And as the bishop has learned on previous occasions, once Dr. Wortle has made up his mind there is nothing that will sway him: 'What he did I would have done, and I'll stick to him through it all in spite of the Bishop, in spite of the newspapers, and in spite of all the rancour of my enemies.'

One the one hand, this is a typical Trollope-novel, with memorable characters finely drawn and entirely credible, fine dialogues, and that unique, subtle mix of serious topics and mild irony. But on the other hand, it's unlike any other Trollope-novel!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Typical Trollope 12 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, although it was a bit long winded over the moral debates. A very good story nonetheless.
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Erudite, accessible and precise. 28 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Exceptional even among the Penguin introductions, Imlah's helpful guide to this Trollope will be of use to lay reader and student alike. I am a great lover of Trollope, but I still learned a great deal from this edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Trollope Treat 12 Sep 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Dr. Wortle's School is basically the story of two couples in love and how their affections disrupt the tranquil setting of the school. The main plot revolves around Dr. Wortle's "usher" or school assistant, Mr. Peacocke and his wife. A scandal from their past threatens their happiness. The second, very minor, plot is the love story between Dr. Wortle's daughter, Mary and the good-natured Lord Carstairs.
The joy of the novel is watching Dr. Wortle deal with these crises. Will he stand by Mr. Peacocke in his time of need? Will he allow his daughter to become engaged to the very young Lord Carstairs? The answers to these questions and the reactions of the other characters are handled in the typical Trollope fashion, with compassion and common sense. Sprinkle the whole thing with deft strokes of humor and you have what is Dr. Wortle's School.
As I mentioned in my review of Castle Richmond, I am amazed what a modern thinker Trollope was. His reputation as a "old-fashioned" author is entirely undeserved. In a day and age (late 1870s)when actions and image were everything, where a hint of scandal could ruin a person, it must have seemed radical to stress that persons should be judged as much on their "nature" or character as anything else. This is one of those general notions that could be applied just as well in 2000 as in 1878.
You might wonder, given what I have already said, why I give Dr. Wortle's School four stars. When you compare them to his towering Last Chronicle of Barset, Orley Farm and The Way We Live Now, it seems a slight injustice to those five star books to give all the others five stars. Dr. Wortle's School is very readable certainly, but it does not quite obtain the status of "masterpiece" that these other novels can claim. As always, Trollop's humor, dialogue, and characterizations make this an enjoyable novel that can be recommeded to anyone.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moral dilemma 16 Nov 2003
By Eileen Rieback - Published on Amazon.com
This novel, one of Anthony Trollope's shortest, deals with a scandal that arises when the bigamous marriage of school teacher Mr. Peacock and his supposed wife is uncovered. In the moral climate of Victorian England, the repercussions of that discovery spread swiftly and severely. The fallout not only harms the Peacocks, but schoolmaster Dr. Wortle and the reputation of his school. The story dwells less upon the secret bigamous marriage itself than upon the the moral dilemma resulting from it: whether something that seems on the surface to be immoral is in truth not really a sin. Dr. Wortle, rather than the Peacocks, is the central character of the story. It is through his fair and compassionate eyes that the reader ponders whether the relationship between Mr. Peacock and his "wife" was really less sinful than any other choice available to the couple. His views are contrasted to those of the Church and to the society as a whole.
Trollope introduces a note of levity to the story with a side plot concerning the love between Dr. Wortle's daughter Mary and young Lord Carstairs, a student at the school. Trollope also takes some interesting potshots at America, particularly the lawlessness and licentiousness of the American West. A good introduction and footnotes to the novel provide background information on Trollope's ideas and personal life, and how they are reflected in the story. If you are hesitant to try a novel by Trollope, this would be a good one to start with.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-balanced portrait of compassion and forgiveness 12 Sep 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
In 'Dr. Wortle's School' Anthony Trollope takes on a very controversial and scandalous subject, that of a bigamous marriage. With a very even hand Trollope allows us to see into the motivations of his characters and truly come to understand why they've done the things they've done, and how they justify their actions. Instead of preaching religion, which clearly isn't Trollope's style, he chooses to take a more liberal look at the underlying morality of the actions of his characters. 'Dr. Wortle's School' has a very modern ring for a Victorian novel, and the themes and characters could easily have been depicted by Joanna rather than Anthony Trollope. Add to that the mysterious tone of Wilkie Collins and you have a very satisfying Victorian novel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read 11 Feb 2006
By John S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Trollope gets in his digs at Victorian hypocrisy in more of a forthright manner than his lengthier novels. Both Dr. Wortle and Mr. Peacocke stick to their guns in not getting in a tizzy over the "technicality" of the bigamous marriage, until the situation can be properly sorted out. I wasn't as wild about the romantic sub-plot as others, finding it a distracting method of filling out the book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Wortle's School is a minor masterpiece by the prolific Anthony Trollope 8 Jan 2008
By C. M Mills - Published on Amazon.com
"Dr. Wortle's School" was a serial novel published in the May through
December 1880 issues of "Blackwood's Magazine" The short novel runs to just over 200 pages. The elderly Trollope wrote it in just over two weeks.
The story concerns a moral dilemma. It is set in Dr. Wortle's preparatory school for boys eager to get into Oxford or Cambridge. An assistant teacher arrives in the school. The Rev. Mr. Peacocke and his lovely American "wife" are well liked in the small school. Dr. Wortle is a big and friendly man much like Trollope was himself.
The Rev. Peacocke was teaching in St. Louis when he befriended a woman whose husband was reportedly killed in San Francisco. The couple wed only to have the supposed dead husband show up! They were, therefore, involved in a bigamous situation. When this was revealed,Mr. Peacocke left for America to discover what had happened. Mrs. Peacocke was befriended and allowed to stay at the Wortle school.
The incident was initiated when the shabby Robert Lefoy the brother of the dead husband Ferdinand arrived in the Wortle school. He and Mr. Peacocke traveled to America where the grave of Ferdinand was discovered. Learning this important fact the Peacockes were married in London by Dr.
Wortle. All ended happily for the couple.
In a slight secondary plot the love between Mary Wortle the good doctor's daughter and the wealthy Lord Carstairs is examined. Despite the class differences the couple are in love with their union being approved by their respective parents.
Scandal is always around the corner with the repugnant gossip the odious Mrs. Staniloup. She accuses Dr. Wortle of befriending the socially unacceptable Peacock couple and seeks to broadcast the news in the town and the newspapers.
Trollope is best known for his Barsetshire and Palliser novels which are huge Victorian three deckers. This slight work is a good place to begin your study of a great novelist and chronicler of the clergy and law professions in nineteenth century England.
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