Wednesday, 30 December 2015

TROLLOPE by Victoria Glendinning

I’m not a great reader of biographies, but I do love Anthony Trollope, so was tempted by this charity shop find. It’s a biography almost as long as one of the subject’s novels, and it needs to be, because Trollope lived a long and full life. I love him for his extraordinary energy. He wrote his many novels while working full time at the post office, and is responsible for such fine novels as SMALL HOUSE AT ALLINGTON as well as the establishment of the postbox. It inspires me. He would wake up early in the morning and write for four hours before going to work a full day, which often included personally walking postal routes to see how they should work. He once said: “The whole success of my life I owe to early hours.” He is for me a prototypical Victorian, that couple of generations that made the industrial revolution happen and in whose long shadows we are all still standing.

Trollope’s family was among the gentility who lacked money, and his early life was fairly difficult. He was socially awkward, middling at school, and not his parents’ favourite. Interestingly, his life only really turned around in his twenties, when he got an opportunity to get away from his family and go to work in Ireland. From then on it was pretty much up, up, up. I was also interested to learn he travelled a great deal, going to America, Australia, and Africa. What a fabulous man. Pity about the horrible beard.

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