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Trollope At His Best.
on 2 March 2016
This excellent book will soon be seen as a tv dramatisation. Trollope was a prolific writer. His background is fascinating.
He was born on 24 April 1815 and he died in December 1882.Today he is regarded as one of the most successful and respected novelists of the Victorian era. This was not ways so. His Barsetshire Chronicles revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. Trollope also wrote books on social, political and gender matters.
His father was a barrister and a Fellow of New College , Oxford. He failed at the bar and his ventures into farming were unsuccessful. He was the son of landed gentry but very short of money. As a result, Anthony had a miserable upbringing. He went to Harrow and Winchester, as did his two older brothers, for short spells only. He hated both. He was bullied and even considered suicide .
His mother took up writing and her income kept the family afloat. His father fled to Belgium to escape debtors prison. After the family joined him, Anthony got a job in London as a Post Office Clerk. His father died the same year, 1834. He was not a great success and had to borrow money to survive. He sought escape by taking a job in Ireland as a postal surveyor's clerk. The work involved inspection tours in Connacht. He loved the job and took up fox hunting, a pursuit he followed for 30 years.
Trollope married Rose in 1844, the daughter of a bank manager. At this time, he had written very little but he began writing while travelling on the train around Ireland. His earliest novels were written while working as a Post Office Inspector. He revealed that he got some of his ideas for his books by dipping into the lost-letter box. Many of his novels were set in Ireland at a time of growing hostility between the Irish and England. The dreadful famine of the 1850's exacerbated this.
In 1851 he was sent to England to reorganize rural mail delivery in the south west. In two years he travelled all over GB, often on horseback. He records it was the happiest two years of his life. During these rides he conceived the plot of several novels, for example The Warden and Barchester Towers. He got promotion and eventually moved to Waltham Cross, where he lived until 1871. In 1864 he left the PO and stood as a Liberal candidate for Beverley in 1868. Like many boroughs it had a reputation for vote- buying. Corruption was rife. He came fourth. Afterwards, he concentrated on his literary career. He travelled to Australia in 1871 to visit his son, a sheep farmer.This produced the plots for more novels. He died in London.
Trollope was a great observer of humans and the environment. He had a vivid imagination and liked to address readers directly. Admirers of his work included Thackeray, Eliot and Collins. He had a better appreciation of money than most, no doubt due to his background. He had also a deep insight and sensitivity to the position of women in Victorian society. He has a huge following which includes Prime Ministers, actors, economists, judges and poets.
This novel is one of his best though perhaps not as well known as some of his others. It focuses on a modest country medical practioner who lives in the west of England. He is upright and principled. In this book Trollope moves outside the Cathedral close. It is the third of the Barsetshire novels. Mary, the doctor's niece, has an odd origin and this underlies the plot. The novel is at times humorous and it is full of interesting characters. Money features a great deal. The vissitudes of Mary's courtship are lovingly detailed with all the wit and satire of the author at his finest.
In essence, it is a social comedy about social snobbery, hypocrisy and self-seeking. Trollope's creation of the de Courcy family and the deplorable Sir Roger Scatcherd is masterly. It is a story which has the playful sensibility of Jane Austen and the heartwarming cheer of Charles Dickens.