Barchester Towers

By Anthony Trollope


The son of Thomas Anthony Trollope, a lawyer, and of Frances Trollope, a prolific writer herself, Anthony Trollope was born in London in 1815. As a child, Trollope was not particularly happy. A major factor in this was his father insistence upon sending him and his two brothers - Thomas Adolphus and Henry - to public school, despite the fact that he lacked sufficient finances to support them properly. They were the brunt of much teasing on account of their poverty. Firstly, Trollope attended Harrow School, later transferring to Winchester. However, he showed little academic promise during his time at either and, unlike his two brothers who continued their studies at Oxford and Cambridge, he was unable to obtain the scholarships he would have needed to support himself through university.

Shortly after leaving school Trollope moved to Brussels to teach, but he remained there only a short while as with his father's help he was able to obtain a position as a junior clerk at the Post Office in London, a job which gave him little satisfaction. However, he was given the chance to take a job with the Post Office in Ireland as an administrator, a post in which he exhibited considerable ability. At this point in his life, Trollope experienced for the first time not only success in his work, but also began his literary career.

Trollope was recalled from Ireland to the south west of England in 1851 in order to reorganise the regional postal services, and it was during the two years that he was thus occupied that he came up with the idea for the Barsetshire series of novels. In his autobiography he wrote: "In the course of the job I visited Salisbury, and whilst wandering there one midsummer evening round the purlieus of the cathedral I conceived the story of The Warden - from whence came that series of novels of which Barchester, with its bishops, dean, and archdeacon, was the central site." However, it was not during this time in the south west that these novels were written but instead in the time between his return to Ireland in 1853 and his final departure from that place to settle permanently in England in 1859.

In 1844, Trollope married Rose Heseltine, who was to bear him two sons. In 1858, he was given special assignments, which saw him travel to Egypt and the West Indies. On his return to England, Trollope was awarded the directorship of the postal district of eastern England, but being less happy in his work than he had been in Ireland, and now earning enough to support himself through his literary endeavours, he resigned from the Post Office in 1867. Trollope was not solely a novelist, however. He was also associated with and wrote for several journals including the Cornhill Magazine, the Fortnightly Review, the Pall Mall Gazette, and St. Paul's Magazine. Another interest of Trollope's was travel and he voyaged to the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. He also stood and was defeated as Liberal candidate for Beverley in Yorkshire in 1868. Anthony Trollope died in 1882.