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"Anthony Trollope was born on 24 April, 1815 in London, the fourth of six surviving children. As he described in his Autobiography (1883) poverty and debt made his childhood acutely unhappy and disrupted his education: his school fees at Harrow and Winchester were frequently unpaid. His family attempted to restore their fortunes by going to America, leaving the young Anthony alone in England but it was not until his mother, Frances, began to write that there was any financial improvement. Her success came too late for her husband who died in exile in Belgium in 1835. Trollope was unable to afford a university education and in 1834 he became a junior clerk in the Post Office. He achieved little until he was appointed Surveyor's Clerk in Ireland in 1841. Here he worked hard, travelled widely, took up hunting and still found time for his literary career. He married Rose Heseltine, the daughter of a bank manager, in 1844; they had two sons, one of whom emigrated to Australia. Trollope frequently went abroad for the Post Office and did not make his home in England again until 1859. He is still remembered as the inventor of the letter-box. In 1867 he resigned from the Post Office and became the editor of St Paul's Magazine for the next three years. His attempt to enter Parliament as a Liberal was defeated in 1868. Trollope took his place among London literary society and counted Thackeray, George Elliot and G. H. Lewes among his friends. Anthony Trollope died on 6 December 1882 as the result of a stroke.
"Anthony Trollope wrote forty-seven novels and five volumes of short stories as well as travel books, biographies and collections of sketches. The Barsetshire series and the six Palliser or `political' books were the first novel-sequences to be written in English. His works offer an unsurpassed portrait of the professional and landed classes of victorian England. In his Autobiography (published posthumously in 1883) Trollope describes the self-discipline that enabled his prolific output: he would produce a given number of words per hour in the early morning, before work; he always wrote while travelling by rail or sea and as soon as he finished one novel, he began another. His efforts resulted in him becoming one of England's most successful and popular writers.
"Barchester Towers (1857) is the second of Trollope's Chronicles of Barsetshire novels; it is preceded by The Warden (1855) and followed by Doctor Thorne (1858), Framley Parsonage (1861), The Small House at Allington (1864) and The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867). He wrote in his Autobiography: `In the writing of Barchester Towers I took great delight. The Bishop and Mrs Proudie were very real to me, as were also the troubles of the archdeacon and the loves of Mr Slope ... it was one of the novels which novel readers were called upon to read.' One contemporary review wrote: `The Warden was a remarkable book; Barchester Towers is still more remarkable ... a book to rouse the reader' while another noted: `every chapter is full of fresh amusement' and a third saw it as `the cleverest novel of the season' and was `thankful that we have a caustic and vigorous writer, who can draw men and women, and tell a story that men and women can read.'"
Source: Penguin Web Site (http://www.futurenet.co.uk/Penguin/Authors/610.html). Accessed 17 February 1997.
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Photograph source: N. John Hall. Salmagundi: Byron, Allegra, and the Trollope Family. Pittsburgh: Beta Phi Mu, 1975. After page 50. PR 5699 T3Z7 ROBA.
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