Trollope's Literary Career

The vast majority of Trollope's literary works were produced during his time in Ireland, something he himself put down to his ability to do two jobs at the same time. This he achieved by rising every morning at five-thirty and working at his writing for three hours before breakfast.

The first two novels that Trollope wrote, both of which dealt with Irish subjects, and his third, which was centred on the French Revolution, were all unsuccessful. It was with the publication of The Warden, the first in the series of Barsetshire novels, that Trollope began to achieve some recognition and success as a writer, and also to realise that English provincial life was far more appealing to the English reading public than were historical or political themes such as the Irish potato famine or the French Revolution. Although sales of Trollope's work remained quite low with the publication of Barchester Towers in 1857, it was generally well received, and from that moment onwards Trollope was increasingly successful, with only the odd novel falling short of the mark. He finished his life as a very rich man.

Interestingly, Trollope revealed in his autobiography that a large part of Barchester Towers was composed during train journeys since his day to day work required him to do a lot of travelling: "I made for myself therefore a little tablet, and found after a few days' exercise that I could write as quickly in a railway carriage as I could at my desk. I worked with a pencil, and what I wrote my wife copied afterwards. In this way was composed the greater part of Barchester Towers and of the novel which succeeded it, and much also of others subsequent to them." While Trollope received only the minimal sum of £9 8s 8d for The Warden, he regarded the advance of £100 that he received for Barchester Towers as "the first real step on the road to substantial success." However, while the money was better, Trollope's publisher, Longman, required that the finished novel be submitted to a reader before going to press. Trollope ignored the reader's most radical recommendation, namely that the novel should be cut by a third, and while he did tone down some parts that were considered to be "too warm", he rejected the reader's opinion of Signora Neroni that: "A good deal of the progress of the tale depends on this lady... The character is a great blot on the work." responding by saying that although she was, "indifferent to all moralities and decent behaviour... such a character may, I think, be drawn without offence if her vice be not made attractive".

The Barchester series of novels was comprised of The Warden (1855); Barchester Towers (1857); Doctor Thorne (1858); Framley Parsonage (1861); The Small House at Allington (1864); and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867). Despite being considered by some modern critics to be somewhat inferior to later works by Trollope such as the Palliser novels, these have remained his most popular to this day. While his popularity did fall off a little towards the end of his life - probably as a result of revelations made in his autobiography of what can seem an automated approach to writing and a preoccupation with financial gain - by the early years of the twentieth century he had once again reached the status of one the most widely read novelists of his age. And although some may say that no single novel of Trollope's ever achieved the artistic merits of Thackeray's Vanity Fair or George Eliot's Middlemarch, it would be fair to say that no novelist of the time was so consistently good, and as J. A. Sutherland so justly writes in his book Victorian Novelists and Publishers: "the experience of ten books, five publishers and twelve years must have convinced Trollope that his career was not going to shape like Dickens's or Thackeray's or Charlotte Brontë's. He would not break on the world with a Pickwick or a Vanity Fair. But if he could produce two novels like Castle Richmond and Framley Parsonage for every one of theirs he would not be far behind at the end of the day."

  By PanEris using Melati.

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