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Trollope, Anthony

novels political harding daughter

(British, 1815–82)

Trollope was a prolific writer who enjoyed outstanding popularity in his own time. He worked for the Post Office and travelled extensively in the course of his work; he also introduced the pillar box to Britain. He published forty-seven novels and several works of non-fiction.

Trollope was a realist who addressed the tensions and difficulties of nineteenth-century society, exploring topical issues such as feminism, the class system, the social effects of money, and electoral reform. His novels deliberately expound his own beliefs, but he was also an astute psychologist, whose account of his characters' conflicting moral outlooks is extremely convincing. His best-known work includes the character-based Barsetshire sequence (1855–67), set in a fictional cathedral town and its county. The six novels depict local society, its intrigues and conflicts, centring on the temperamental Archdeacon and his father-in-law, the Revd Septimus Harding. Begin with The Warden (1855), the first volume of the series, which considers the tension caused between Harding's younger daughter Eleanor and her suitor, Dr John Bold, when Bold accuses Harding of mismanaging money left to the hospital of which he is warden. Move on to Trollope's later sequence of Palliser novels (1864–80), which begin with Can You Forgive Her? (1864–5). Set in London, they follow the political career of Plantagenet Palliser and the lives and relationships of those around him.

Also recommended is The Way We Live Now (1874–5), the psychologically acute story of Augustus Melmotte, who, having gained social prestige and political office on largely false grounds, attempts to marry his daughter Marie to rich men and eventually faces political disgrace. You may also enjoy An Autobiography (1883), Trollope's account of his difficult early life and successful career.

George Gissing, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray.

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