Why Anthony Trollope is the best 19th Century Author


A Picture of Antony Trollope Contemporary to Dickens

When discovering a new author for the first time there is one thing that they must fulfil, I must be able to get to the end of the first 20 pages without having to re read a paragraph and to have caught my attention within 2 pages. The next criteria they must have is that they need to entertain me if they are a novel. Antony Trollope an lesser known 19th century contemporary of Charles Dickens, not only is Trollope readable but is entertaining and an a fantastic story teller to boot.


I discovered the Barchester Chronicles through being given a DVD circa 1982 starring the delectable and very young Mr Rickman. It took several watches to appreciate the story but on New Years Eve I promised myself that I would source a copy at the library and give him a read.

Alan Rickman as Mr Slope & Janey Maw as Eleanor Bold



Some of you will know that I am Dyslexic. However each individual has their own struggle with how a dyslexic processes the world, I have always been relieved and grateful that my struggle has never been with reading, for reading is one of the biggest pleasures in my life. I am slower than my peers but I do read and I read lots to prove a point.


I will confess I have never really gotten on with classics in the written form. I have never finished Pride & Prejudice – I know the story inside out but failed to get past the midway point. And with the exception of one of his books I have always given up with Dickens and abandoned him after 10 pages. Reading should never be a chore it should be a pleasure and in the written form Dickens and Austen are hard work. Dickens has only given me pleasure once – Great expectations; it took 8 long and stressful weeks but I did it. I will not however sit here and say that Charles is not a great storyteller for he is, somewhat more depressing than I would have liked in some cases, but Charles could tell a tale.


This is where the two Authors differ for me Mr Trollope (great name also!) in the case of Barchester Towers not only was able to tell a tale, the characters were well formed the book was narrated by the author the subject was clever political and amusing and most of readable. His wording and turn of phrase meant that you could read without difficulty even out loud without pre-reading the prose beforehand.


I would even go as far to say that Barchester Towers is one of the best books I have ever read and that I was sad when I returned it to the library. The book had become part of me and my life. I looked forward to picking it up and seeing Mrs Bold, the Grantley’s, gentle Mr Harding, pushy Mrs Prodie and Dr Prodie the bishop, and the ever so slightly slimy and over ambitious Mr Slope. These people populated my thoughts on buses as well as my dreams and became real to me for 2 and half weeks.


So yes Dickens is one of our best writers and is a supreme story teller but spare a thought for Antony Trollope – There is a very good reason why politicians are often quoted as saying that Trollope was their favourite author – he would have made a marvellous 21st century political satirist, for I feel for he understands the in workings of the political mind whether it be Church or state he knows the political animal. Who else could make the election of a Bishop and a Dean into comedy and a love story?  

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2 Responses to Why Anthony Trollope is the best 19th Century Author

  1. The other day I saw a website that asked its readers to nominate their favourite Dickens character, or to be precise which one they would most like to have a cup of tea with, which is not necessarily the same thing. Either way, I realised I would struggle to name one. Many of his characters charm and irritate me in equal measure. How, for example, does David Copperfield become obsessed with ‘dippy’ Dora? – a good example of Dickens difficulty writing credible female characters. Often Dickens characters are just too exaggerated for my liking. By contrast, as you suggest, I would quite like the idea of taking tea with Mr Harding or his daughter and, whilst I would not want to work with Mr Slope or Mrs Proudie, they would be entertaining operators to watch in action as they sought to claw their way to the top.
    I wonder if Trollope is generally regarded as a lesser writer than Dickens or Eliot because he had a day job (with the Post Office)?

  2. gagarin says:

    I am a recent convert to Trollope and I adore his writing. I cannot understand how I got to my age without being told about him. Utterly wonderful.

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