Trollope, Anthony (trŏlˈəp) [key], 1815–82, one of the great English novelists. After spending seven unhappy years in London as a clerk in the general post office, he transferred (1841) to Ireland and became post-office inspector; he held various positions in the postal service until his resignation in 1867. He published several unsuccessful novels before he achieved fame with The Warden (1855), the first in the series of Barsetshire novels. Others in the series are Barchester Towers (1857), Doctor Thorne (1858), Framley Parsonage (1861), The Small House at Allington (1864), and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867). In his later novels Trollope shifted his interest from the rural scene to urban society and politics. These books include The Claverings (1867), Phineas Finn (1869), He Knew He Was Right (1869), The Eustace Diamonds (1873), The Way We Live Now (1875), The Prime Minister (1876), and The American Senator (1877). His extensive journeys, many in the service of the post office, resulted in various books of travel, including an account of his visit to the United States. He was an industrious and prolific author, and besides his novels and travel books he wrote several biographical works and a highly praised autobiography (1883). According to Henry James, Trollope's greatness lies in his "complete appreciation of the usual." The Barsetshire novels, upon which his fame rests, depict in detail the lives of a group of ordinary but interesting people who live in the county of Barsetshire. The series as a whole presents a fascinating microcosm of Victorian society.
Trollope's mother, Frances "Fanny" Trollope, 1780–1863, was also a writer. Her acerbic account of her travels in the United States, The Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832), was offensive to Americans but was a best seller in England and began her career as a successful writer. She continued to write travel books and started a steady stream of novels, of which the best are The Vicar of Wrexhill (1837) and The Widow Barnaby and its sequels (1839–56).
See his autobiography ed. by M. Sadleir (1883, repr. 1968); biographies of him by M. Sadleir (1927, new ed. 1961) and H. Walpole (1928); studies by A. O. J. Cockshut (1955), D. Smalley (1969), A. G. Freedman (1971), J. Pope-Hennessy (1971), W. M. Kendrick (1980), R. H. Super (1988), S. Wall (1989), and N. J. Hall (1992); L. P. and R. P. Stebbins, The Trollopes (1945, repr. 1968); biography of Frances Trollope by P. Neville-Sington (1998).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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