“The Warden” was Anthony Trollope’s fourth novel, and he finished it, he tells us, in the autumn of 1853.

He was born in London at 16, Keppel Street, Russell Square, on April 24th, 1815, the son of an unlucky Chancery barrister. He has described his sufferings as a despised day-boy at Harrow and at Sunbury. Winchester, where he was even more miserable, followed. Then, failing to go to Oxford, he found a post in the General Post Office. A transfer to Ireland in the same service led to more fortunate days.

His first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran, was Irish. It was published in 1847 by the same house that brought out in that year Wuthering Heights. Two other novels followed, with little more success. His Irish postal itineraries, which taught him humour, were followed by English ones as fruitful. The Warden, which appeared in 1855, was first conceived while he was wandering one midsummer evening round the purlieus of Salisbury Cathedral. The novel was at once hailed by a few select critics. It revealed, as has since been said, “a new humorist and a new type of humour”—we may almost add, the humour of an Englishman who had had his “wit-baptism” in Ireland. “The novel-reading world,” says Trollope himself, “did not go mad about The Warden, but I soon felt that it had not failed as the others had failed. … At the end of 1855 I received a cheque for £9 8s. 8d., which was the first money I had ever earned by literary work.” (A previous £20, paid on account of one of his novels which fell flat, he did not count as really earned.) The Times, in a friendly criticism of The Warden and Barchester Towers, rebuked Trollope for his morbid indulgence in personalities, referring to his Tom Towers, and to his conceit of that paper in the guise of Jupiter. But, says Trollope, “living away in Ireland, I had not even heard the name of any gentleman connected with The Times newspaper, and could not have intended to represent any individual by Tom Towers.” So Tom Towers is an inferred, and not a directly imitated character.

The best criticism, or appreciation, of The Warden is undoubtedly Mr. Henry James’s, which appears in his Partial Portraits (Macmillan & Co., 1888). “It is simply,” he says, “the history of an old man’s conscience.” Again: “The question of Mr. Harding’s resignation becomes a drama, and we anxiously wait for the catastrophe. Trollope never did anything happier than the picture of this sweet and serious little old gentleman. …”

The Warden was the first of the six Barsetshire novels, which represent, together with three or four other books, including The Three Clerks and Orley Farm, that part of Trollope’s work which is most likely to endure. These are the six Barset books:—

The Warden, Framley Parsonage,
Barchester Towers, The Small House at Allington,
Doctor Thorne, The Last Chronicle of Barset.

Anthony Trollope died on December 6th, 1882. The following is his complete literary record:—

The Macdermots of Ballycloran, 1847; The Kellys and the O’Kellys, 1848; La Vendée, 1850; The Warden, 1855; Barchester Towers, 1857; The Three Clerks, 1858; Doctor Thorne, 1858; The Bertrams, 1859; Castle Richmond, 1860; Framley Parsonage (from Cornhill), 1861; Orley Farm, 1862; Rachel Ray, 1863; The Small House at Allington (Cornhill), 1864; Can you forgive her? 1864; Miss Mackenzie, 1865; The Belton Estate (Fortnightly), 1866; The Claverings (Cornhill), 1867; The Last Chronicle of Barset, 1867; Nina Balatka (Blackwood), 1867; Linda Tressel (Blackwood), 1868; He knew he was Right, 1869; Phineas Finn (St. Paul’s Magazine), 1869; The Vicar of Bullhampton, 1870; Biography of Cæsar, 1870; Ralph the Heir, 1871; The Golden Lion of Granpère, 1872; Phideas Redux, 1873; The Eustace Diamonds, 1873; Henry Heathcote: a story of Australian Bush Life, 1874; Lady Anna, 1874; The Way we live now, 1875; The Prime Minister, 1876; The American Senator, 1877; Is he Popenjoy? 1878; John Caldigate, 1879; An Eye for an Eye, 1879; Cousin Henry, 1879; Thackeray (English Men of Letters), 1879; The Duke’s Children, 1880; Ayala’s Angel, 1881; Dr. Wortle’s School, 1881; The Fixed Period, 1882; Kept in the Dark, 1882; Marion Fay, 1882; Mr. Scarborough’s Family (in All the Year Round, at the time of author’s death).

Two novels, The Land Leaguers and An Old Man’s Love, were published posthumously, as well as an Autobiography written 1875–6.

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