Five Fascinating Facts About… Anthony Trollope

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Compiled by Harriet

anthony_trollope waddy cartoon
Cartoon of Trollope by Frederick Waddy, 1872

1. Born in 1815, Trollope had a miserable childhood. His father lost all his money, he was bullied at school, and he contemplated suicide when he was twelve.

2. At nineteen, he joined the Post Office as a clerk, and after a shaky start gradually rose to a higher position. He continued the work until he was in his fifties, though by this time he was a successful novelist. He is credited with the invention of the pillar box (originally trialled in the Channel Islands, read more at the Postal Museum, here).

3. His first novels, published when he was in his thirties, were set in Ireland where he was working at the time. It was only when he started his Barchester series, inspired by a working trip to Salisbury on his return to England, that his career as an author really took off.

4. Trollope rose every day at 5.30, and wrote for exactly three hours before going to work. He kept a strict timetable and finished each novel within a few months. If he finished one before the three hours were up, he would start the next one immediately.

5. When Trollope died, he left no money to his younger son Frederic, a sheep farmer in Australia. Instead, Frederic inherited his father’s Autobiography and two novels ready for publication.

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Harriet is one of the Shiny New Books editors.

Read Harriet’s reviews of the latest reprints in Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire here.