The prolific and popular novelist Anthony Trollope, b. Apr. 24, 1815, d. Dec. 6, 1882, left in his many works a rich record of the manners of clerical and political life in Victorian England. The son of Frances Trollope, a popular woman writer who published more than 100 works including The Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832), Trollope became a clerk in the post office as a young man. He continued this career throughout his life, ultimately becoming an important official.
His first novel, Macdermots of Ballycloran (1845), was unsuccessful, but in 1855 he established his reputation with The Warden, the first of the chronicles of Barsetshire, a series of novels dealing with clerical life in the imaginary cathedral city of Barchester. In later works of this group, such as Barchester Towers (1857), Doctor Thorne (1858), and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867), he concentrated less upon religious issues than upon personal relationships.
After an unsuccessful campaign for Parliament, Trollope's interest in political life found expression in the series of parliamentary novels that follow the fortunes of the aristocratic Palliser family and the newly rich Phineas Finn. In such novels as Phineas Finn: The Irish Member (1869), The Eustace Diamonds (1873), and The Prime Minister (1876), Trollope is more concerned with the relations between the sexes than with the political conflicts of his day. A prolific writer, he also published such social satires as The Way We Live Now (1875) and a romance of the future, The Fixed Period (1882).
Although the posthumous publication of Trollope's Autobiography (1883) - which records his journeyman writing of a quota of words each day while working as a civil servant - temporarily dimmed his reputation, modern readers find satisfaction in his portrayal of a satisfied, prosperous society that has long since disappeared. Recent critics see his mild irony as a sophisticated means of engaging serious moral issues.
Biography written by Herbert L. Sussman, Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. For more information on this online reference, visit Grolier Online .