Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was a remarkable man. After an unhappy childhood, and an unpromising start to his career, he went on to write 47 novels and rise to the top of his profession as a senior civil servant in the Post Office. Visit The Trollope Society here.

Victoria here, marveling at the achievements of a prolific author whose work is familiar to me more from the television adaptations than from the novels themselves. Shame on me. But I excuse myself on the grounds that a year of Dickens, Elliott, Hardy, et. al.  in a college English Victorian lit class filled my head with so many characters I dared not take on Trollope.  So now is the time for all those novels, a delightful prospect ahead.

The Pallisers was filmed over 13 months and shown in 1974 in 26 episodes.  It is available wherever BBC CDs are sold or streamed. Many of your favorite British stars are featured: Susan Hampshire, Derek Jacobi, Penelope Keith, Anthony Andrews, Anna Massey, and Jeremy Irons.,

The Barchester Chronicles was broadcast in 1982, also by the BBC. It combined several of Trollope’s novels set in Barsetshire: The Warden, Barchester Towers, and others.

I was surprised to see that many consider the series to be Alan Rickman’s break-out role.  He plays Rev. Obadiah Slope, an oily character who duels verbally with Mrs. Proudie, the Bishop’s wife.

In the series, Geraldine McEwan plays Mrs. Proudie, with other stars such as Donald Pleasence, Susan Hampshire, and Nigel Hawthorne in starring roles.

To watch an excerpt here, click on the arrow on the BBC site.  Clive Swift appears as Bishop Proudie, Geraldine McEwan as Mrs. Proudie, and Alan Rickman as Obadiah Slope.

In the above illustrated set, Barchester Chronicles is combined with two additional Trolloppe stories produced by the BBC, both scripted by Andrew Davies.

The Way We Live Now :Trollope’s story of power, greed and corruption set in the political and financial world of London is startlingly contemporary, with many parallels to recent city scandals. Its four episodes won the BAFTA for Best Drama Serial in 2002, and featured David Suchet.

He Knew He Was Right  2004, was also scripted by Andrew Davies and had four episodes

Trollope wrote every day from 5-8 am before going to his job in the Post Office. this is an example I would dearly love to emulate. Alas, I have too little self-discipline!

Trollope traveled the world in his capacity as an inspector for the post office.  He also instituted the use of the famous pillar box in 1853, familiar to all travelers in the UK.

One of many varied styles of Royal Mail Pillar Boxes

Anthony Trollope’s mother, Frances Milton Trollope (1779 – 1863) was an English novelist and travel writer. She took her children to America to live in a utopian community, but their fortunes fared no better there than in England.

Fanny Trollope by Auguste Hervieu c. 1832

After their return to England, she wrote Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832), which sold well. Subsequent novels were also moderately successful and she is cited as an influence on the anti-slavery movement. Her novels generally dealt with social issues, though she was also well known for her travel writings; her books number over a hundred. She spent most of her later life in Florence where she died and is buried.

The contemporary British novelist Joanna Trollope (b. 1943) is an indirect descendant of Anthony Trollope.  She has written almost twenty novels and received an OBE from the Queen in 19996.

Joanna Trollope, 2011

She is the author of last year’s re-working of Jane Austens Sense and Sensibility, part of a project to have illustrious modern writers re-do the famous plots and characters of the Austen novels after 200 years. Her website is here.

Angela Thirkell ia not in anyway related to Anthony Trollope, but she is a popular writer who has used his imaginary Barsetshire as the setting for many of her novels.

Angela Thirkell by John Collier, 1914

Her novels are witty and often ironic examinations of county and parish life in 1930’s, 1940’s and post-war England. Educated in London and Paris, she moved to Australia with her second husband. Never happy there, she returned to England in 1929 and stayed. High Rising, her second novel, published in 1933, was the first of many set in upper middle class circles.Getting to know here work is a delight.  I am a proud member of The Angela Thirkell Society; click here to learn more.

Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell
, a good place to start if you are not familiar with her work

To return to our birthday boy, I am sure it will be easy to find a readers group pursuing a deeper knowledge of Anthony Trollope in this bicentennial year.  Want to join me?

Royal Mail Stamp to be issued soon
It seems only fitting that the Royal Mail will issues a stamp honoring Trollope on his bicentennial, After alll, he was one of their own.  For more information, click here,


  1. Thank you for the information! I am a bit familiar with Anthony Trollope, but not Joanna or Angela Thirkell. . .both look interesting to read, and I'm always looking for something new and different, but with a Victorian/Edwardian setting or feeling to it.

  2. Cynthia – I think you're going to love Angela Thirkell. Lucky you to have them all to read. Elizabeth – I knew that Julian Fellowes was slated to do a "Gilded Age in New York" drama after DA, but no other details. Thanks for your posts!

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