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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) was born in London, the fifth of seven children, though only one of two to survive to adulthood.  The Trollope family was poor, partly due to the father's gambling habits.  Thomas Trollope tried but failed at law before becoming a farmer.  Anthony's mother, Frances, after a family trip to the United States, published Domestic Manners of the Americans and used writing as a way to support the family after her husband's death.  She secured for Anthony a position as a post office clerk when he was 19 and seven years later in 1841, he received a promotion of sorts to go to Ireland.  His job in Ireland, which he would hold until retiring in 1867, allowed him to travel to places such as Egypt and the West Indies.  It was while in Ireland that he began his literary career.

His first novel, The MacDermots of Ballycloran (1847), garnered little attention, and Trollope remained relatively unacclaimed until the 1855 publication of The Warden, which became the first novel in the Barsetshire series.  He continued to produce several novels throughout the 1860s, such as Orley Farm and He Knew He Was Right.  His novels are written in a realistic vein, addressing social issues of his day.  Trollope uses humor and sarcasm to bring to life the Victorian society in which he lived.  He adhered to a strict writing schedule in order to finish his novels, often writing on the train going to and coming from work.

Trollope retired from the postal service in 1867 and, after an unsuccessful bid for Parliament, he traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. before returning to London.  Upon his return, he recognized the culture of greed and corruption that had infiltrated the city of his birth.  This realization prompted him to write The Way We Live Now.  Published in 1875, the novel chronicles the lives of members of the English upper and lower classes to illustrate the role greed played at all levels of society.  His most far reaching work, the novel leaves no aspect of English life unexamined.

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