Pivotal City and County Victorian Novels course

The Oscher LifeLong Learning Institute at American University is running a ten week course, Pivotal City and County Victorian Novels, at its Spring Valley Building in Washington D.C.

Aimed primarily at retired adults, the course is covering Gaskell’s North and South, Trollope’s Framley Parsonage, and Dickens’s The Signalman as mid-Victorian texts. Dr Ellen Moody says of the study texts, that “Despite genre differences, they intersect and mirror the era and enable us to better see our own.”

The first session was March 6th, so unfortunately this information falls into the “better late than never” category.

For more information about the course and how to join go to:




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Illustrating Trollope: The Three Clerks

We turn now to Trollope’s early semi-autobiographical novel The Three Clerks. The Trollope Society edition is based on the 1878 edition published by Richard Bentley and contains only a single illustration, the frontispiece which is uncredited but, from the signature on the wood engraving, can be identified as by Josiah Wood Whymper.

The scene featured is from late in the novel when Alaric Tudor, who has been led astray by excessive ambition to over-extend himself and is about to find himself facing criminal charges. He confronts Undecimus Scott, whose unscrupulous behaviour has brought him low, seizing him by the collar. The same scene is also depicted by Patrick Benson in the Folio Society edition.

The energy of Whymper’s illustration is marked compared with Benson’s. There is a vigour and strength about Alaric, evident in his expression and in the toppled hat of the other man which reflects his passion as he realises that this man has ruined him. The latter is evidently fearful of receiving a thrashing, grabbing his assailant’s arm. The two are captured in purposeful motion. In contrast, Benson’s Alaric simply looks cross and Undy Scott appears merely taken aback. Both stand flat-footed and stationary, facing each other. The image altogether lacks the sense of violence in the Victorian illustration.

Whymper was by this stage in his career a well-known engraver and illustrator for a number of leading London publishers. He was well used to illustrating books of natural history, ornithology and exploration – he provided the illustrations for Dr Livingstone’s Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi in 1865. He was also noted for his watercolours such as this River Scene with Windmill, painted in 1875.

Patrick Benson’s sixteen illustrations for The Three Clerks include three key scenes from the novel which Trollope, in his Autobiography revealed were drawn from his own life. The character of the hapless Charley Tudor is based loosely on Trollope himself and Benson depicts the humiliating failure of his/Charley’s calligraphy examination which he underwent as a prelude to joining the civil service – Charley in the decidedly inferior Commissioners of Internal Navigation – the “Infernal Navvies” and Trollope in the Post Office. We see Charley, under the supervision of his cousin Alaric and his friend Henry Norman, make a second attempt at home which will be disregarded the following day when he is taken on in any event – just as was Trollope himself.

Next we find Benson illustrating the incident when Charley, in debt, is advised by the money lender to “be punctual” with his payments – presumably of interest only, rather than repayment of the principal sum owing. Again Trollope relates in his Autobiography that this incident is taken from his own life as a young hobbledehoy. His experience with the moneylenders, the Victorian equivalent of the Credit Card, but without even the scant protection offered by modern legal constraints requiring publication of the representative Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) we now know, featured not only in this novel but was also reworked in Phineas Finn, where the eponymous hero borrows money and, once in debt, is also told by the lender to “be punctual” – indeed this moment features in one of the Millais illustrations for that novel which appear in the Trollope Society edition.

And to complete Charley’s humiliation, he is accosted by Mrs Davis in his office where she demands, “What are you a-going to do about that poor girl there?” His suffering mirrors that of Trollope who was similarly harangued in the presence of his colleagues by the mother of a young woman to whom he might, or might not, have proposed marriage.

Certainly Benson manages to capture the naivety and bemused incompetence of Charley/Trollope in these illustrations. The reader is both amused by and appalled at the situations into which he has fallen and this is emphasised by the illustrator’s light, comic touch.

Benson was himself at this time a popular illustrator of children’s books. He adopted a very similar style to that employed in The Three Clerks for his work in the 1994 edition of Kenneth Grahame’s classic The Wind in the Willows re-published by Harper Collins.

He also preferred to use pastel tones for his work in Roald Dahl’s final work The Minpins, published in 1991, in spite of the somewhat dark and sinister nature of the material which Dahl in this, as in many of his books for children, employed.


Benson also provided the illustrations, again in a style very similar to that he employed in both The Three Clerks and The Wind in the Willows, for the 1991 Harper Collins publication Fly Fishing which is purported to be written by the fictional character J. R. Hartley, created for the Yellow Pages television advert some years previously, though it is actually written by Michael Russell. It is perhaps Trollopian to note that both Russell and Benson are in truth keen fly fishermen and called upon their own experiences to write and illustrate the book. I am sure Trollope would have appreciated the joke.

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Antiquarian Trollope titles go on sale

The Trollope Society has sold off a proportion of its antiquarian stock to G David, Bookseller of St Edward’s Passage, Cambridge. These items should be on the shelves from this weekend.
The collection contains several early editions, books about Trollope and early editions of the works of Fanny Trollope and Thomas Adolphus Trollope. Some are in good condition and others in a very poor condition which will need some repair. This will be reflected in the price so bargains are a possibility.
To find out more you can visit  or contact the shop – tel: 01223 354619 email: gdavid.books@gmail.com

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Illustrating Trollope: Phineas Finn

We return to the “Palliser” series now and consider the two novels which form the core of the politics in that group of novels: Phineas Finn and Phineas Redux. The first of these in the Trollope Society edition includes 20 illustrations by Millais from the first edition – it was published in serial form in St Paul’s Magazine in 1867-69 and in book form immediately thereafter by Virtue and Co. The Trollope Society edition of the second novel includes 24 illustrations by Francis Montague Holl taken from the 1874 Routledge edition rather than the first edition. The Folio Society editions of both novels each include 20 illustrations by Llewellyn Thomas. We therefore have the opportunity not only to compare and contrast Victorian and modern takes on the novels’ scenes and characters but also two different illustrators from the time the novels were originally published.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it is evident when considering the subjects chosen by Millais in Phineas Finn, working contemporaneously with the publication of the novels, and Llewellyn Thomas, working some 120 years later with the benefit of knowledge of events described at the opening of the second novel. Millais featured Mary Flood Jones in five of his twenty illustrations, including depictions of her with Phineas which top and tail the book as the first and final illustrations; Thomas does not include a single illustration of the woman whom Phineas marries at the end of the novel on his return to Ireland. Thomas’s decision to relegate Mary to the role of minor secondary character no doubt reflects the knowledge, not available to Millais when illustrating the book, that she will die as a result of pregnancy complications between the end of that novel and the start of the sequel, thereby enabling the eponymous hero to return to the fray in Westminster.

Indeed, the relative importance of the four principal love interests which distract Phineas from the serious business of pqolitics throughout the novel by counting the number of illustrations in which they appear.

The clear winner in this respect for both Millais and Thomas is Lady Laura Standish, who enters into a loveless marriage with Mr Kennedy, in spite of being infatuated with Phineas, for what must be ascribed as purely political motives. Millais depicts Lady Laura eight times, four of which (including two alone with Phineas) are before her marriage. Thomas depicts Lady Laura five times (i.e. in nearly one third of all his illustrations) including one with Phineas which is also the subject of one of Millais’s illustrations – the moment when Phineas while walking with her at Mr Kennedy’s highland estate attempts to propose to her only to discover that she has just engaged herself to Mr Kennedy. Thomas lays out the scene almost identically to the Millais illustration with Phineas, in highland garb, to the left and Lady Laura to the right, facing him.

Millais also depicts Phineas’s second love interest, Violet Effingham, four times – only half the number of appearances of Lady Laura, and all of these occur in the earlier parts of the book, before she marries Lord Chiltern. Thomas, similarly regards her as of lesser interest, featuring her in only one illustration.
Millais pays least attention to Madame Max Goesler of all Phineas’s admirers. She is only depicted twice and in both she is not with Phineas but with the old Duke of Omnium, who is infatuated with her.  I have to confess to finding Millais’s depiction of her less than alluring when engaged in intimate conversation with the Duke, stopping always just short of indiscreet behaviour because she has a certain, strict moral code, which allows her to flirt with the old man but take it no further, whatever society may be thinking she is doing. It is interesting to compare this with the, to my eyes, more sensual depiction of Phineas and Lady Laura deep in conversation and similarly engrossed in each others’ company.

Thomas does not depict this scene but shows the ill-matched pair out of doors with Madame Max facing away from the viewer with the scene which she is observing alongside the Duke taking up the bulk of the illustration. He also follows this approach in the first of the two illustrations of Madame Max with Phineas – they are sidelined and face away into the main scene depicted – before finally depicting her “facing the camera” in the last illustration of the novel – thereby benefiting from 120 year’s hindsight to contrast his own final image for Phineas Finn, showing him with the woman who will become his second wife at the end of the next novel, with Millais’s depiction of Finn with his first wife whom he marries at the conclusion of the first book.

It is interesting to note that the overwhelming majority of Millais’s illustrations are portrait, rather than landscape, making them more readily suited to book format than for the column layout adopted by many magazines published at the time. Millais also invariably depicts the characters full length thereby maintaining a slightly distancing, observer role for the reader when looking at the pictures. Llewellyn Thomas has followed this convention creating a more measured impression that is softened somewhat by his looser, free-flowing style of drawing, which depends for its effect more on the creation of an overall impression than reliance on details as some of the modern illustrators commissioned by the Folio Society, such as Alexy Pendle who drew the illustrations for the Barchester novels, have done. This gives the Palliser series in the Folio edition a consistency of style but at the expense of variety or light and shade in the depictions of the characters.

We can now turn to Phineas Redux which in the Trollope Society edition is illustrated by Francis Montague Holl who was engaged in 1869 by William Luson Thomas to work on his new illustrated newspaper The Graphic. Holl’s 24 illustrations for the novel were reproduced in the Routledge edition, published in 1874, from the original plate engravings.  Holl was noted for his sombre style in paintings such as No Tidings From The Sea, depicting the family of a fisherman waiting for news after his boat has failed to return, and The Village Funeral.


This darker style is carried through into the engravings Holl used to illustrate Phineas Redux. His technique creates a dark background with pictures emerging from the shadows which contrasts markedly with light backgrounds which typify Millais’s illustrations – and, for that matter, those of Llewellyn Thomas. This is put to good effect in the dramatic scene in which Phineas is confronted by Mr Kennedy when he visits him at his rooms. The ill-lit interior may be an accurate reflection of a typical, poorly lit Victorian room, but it also gives a figurative insight into the despair and madness of Kennedy.

In contrast, Thomas’s image of the same scene – one of only three which are depicted in both editions, conveys the sense of Kennedy’s incoherence through the wild expression on his face, the melodramatic posture of the man and implicitly through the loose freehand cross-hatching used to create the light and shade in the image.

The second duplicated image is the depiction of another pivotal scene in which Madame Max is with the elderly Duke of Omnium when he attempts to propose to her and she carefully sidesteps the offer of marriage without giving offence to the old man. This is one of six appearance she makes in Holl’s illustrations and four in Thomas’s, both artists rightly reflecting her increased importance in this second novel with more frequent depictions. However, Holl chooses to depict her alone twice as she struggles to master her feelings for Phineas, which she believes are unrequited, and does not picture her with Phineas until they are finally brought together after she has successfully brought about his release from prison. Here he creates a tranquil expression on her face which is more appealing, to my mind, than Millais achieved when depicting her at her supposedly most alluring when behaving coquettishly with the old Duke in the earlier novel.

Holl, with his 24 illustrations, has scope for greater variety in subject matter than Thomas with his sixteen. Holl uses this to explore the subplot of Adelaide Palliser’s romance with Gerard Maule and to twice depict Lizzie Eustace, who is a relatively minor character in the novel, albeit one who would be very familiar to readers as the principal anti-heroine of The Eustace Diamonds, the intervening novel between the two books featuring Phineas Finn in the middle of the “Palliser” series.
Holl was also able to balance the framing of his illustrations using nine landscape views and fifteen portraits to give broader perspectives where he wished. Presumably this was made possible through publication across two newspaper columns. This is put to good effect when depicting Phineas in his cell during the trial. Here the atmosphere of gloom, both literally in the room itself and metaphorically in Phineas’s despair, is conveyed through the dark shadows in which Lady Laura, his visitor, is almost obscured, much as Phineas was in the first illustration of the novel when he visits Lady Chiltern.

At the outset of the novel, Phineas has been depicted by Holl as an older, more careworn man than Millais portrayed.  Gone is the luxuriant beard, upright carriage and clear brow to be replaced by a thinner, almost drawn face, a middle-aged stoop and a frown.  Evidently Holl is depicting a man who is still grieving for his lost wife and child. Indeed, in early pictures Phineas is invariably seen in shadow or even facing the wall with his face hidden from the reader to emphasise his psychological state. Now, we find him bearded but dishevelled in prison, reflecting further developments in his character which are less clearly defined in Thomas’s depictions of Phineas, whose countenance, including his featured beard, show comparatively little change through the different passages of the book in the Folio edition.

Both the Trollope Society and the Folio Society editions end with illustrations of the final, tragic meeting between Lady Laura and Phineas. The contrast in approach is marked. Thomas, with his lighter, airy style, does not convey to me the sense of finality in the embrace of the two former lovers. I am not sure that Lady Laura’s upturned face and Phineas’s benign look express the moment appropriately and may be mistaken for a pleasant tryst in an ongoing courtship.Holl, on the other hand, shows Lady Laura clinging to Phineas, her face hidden against his chest, in an attitude which conveys how great is her loss as she realises and faces up to the knowledge that through her actions, recounted across the two novels, she has lost the man whom she has loved throughout. He too looks like a man who has endured. The gloom of the woodland setting reflects the pain they both feel. 


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Interview with J Hillis Miller

Members of the Trollope Society who attended last year’s annual lecture by Frederik van Dam, and attendees at the earlier Leuven University conference on Anthony Trollope will have seen extracts from an interview with J. Hillis Miller. Thanks to the efforst of Frederik van Dam and others, the full interview is now available to be watched on You Tube.

One of the most important literary critics of the twentieth century, J. Hillis Miller transformed the academic landscape through his advocacy of deconstruction. In this intellectual portrait, shot at Hillis’s house on Deer Isle Maine, Miller reflects about the place of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope in his thinking and writing, which leads him to consider the value of literature and the imagination in a world that is increasingly digitised and mediatised.

Interview Frederik Van Dam
Directed by Dany Deprez
Cinematography Jef Van Den Langenbergh
Sound recording Tom Keymeulen
Editing Bob Mees
Soundscapes James de Graef
Sound engineer Johan Vandermaelen
Produced by Frederik Van Dam and Ortwin de Graef

MMXV © Frederik Van Dam and Dany Deprez


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The Duke’s Children: discount on new edition


The new full-length edition of The Duke’s Children is about to be published by Everyman’s Library. The new hardback edition is available to members of the Trollope Society at the specially discounted price of £11.50 (the full price is £23.38). Members can order their copy at:


If you are not a member and would like to join the Society – there are lots of benefits in addition to being able to buy the new Everyman edition of the The Duke’s Children as well as copies of Trollope’s novels in the unique Trollope Society edition, including access to members’ seminar groups (usually based around one of Trollope’s novels), free entry to the Society’s Annual Lecture and copies of the Society’s magazine Trollopiana three times a year – then you can join online at:


For those who are interested in discovering more about the differences between the full length version of The Duke’s Children and the shorter version which is all that has been available to the public from its original publication in 1880 until the decade long work of Professor Steven Amarnick and his team painstakingly reconstructed the full length text for publication in 2015 to mark Trollope’s bicentenary, you can follow a chapter by chapter comparative analysis in The Trollope Jupiter Essays available in Kindle edition (£3.48) or in paperback (£19.99).

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Illustrating Trollope: The Way We Live Now


Regarded by many as Trollope’s great masterpiece, The Way We Live Now, feels as relevant to today’s world with its financial scandals, “get rich quick” Ponzi schemes and mistrust of bankers who care for nothing but their own personal profit, whatever the cost to the small man who invests his life-savings only to lose them, as it was when Trollope penned it more than 140 years ago. The above image of Melmotte, taken from the frontispiece of the Chatto and Windus edition of 1876, which is reproduced in the Trollope Society edition, is not attributed to any artist but the self-satisfied pose, with feet planted firmly apart, cigar in one hand and the other thrust deep in his pocket is instantly and universally recognisable, the timeless stance of the rich man contemplating his wealth and looking down contemptuously on hoi polloi: Melmotte is the prototype for the Goldman Sachs Masters of the Universe.

This frontispiece is the sole illustration in the Trollope Society edition which notes that the original serial publication and two-volume publication by Chapman and Hall in 1875 featured “notoriously incompetent” illustrations by Lionel Grimshaw Fawkes. Somewhat confusingly, James Pope Hennesey, in his biography of Trollope, misattributes the illustrations in the Chapman and Hall edition to Luke Fildes (who provided the illustrations for Dickens’ unfinished final novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood ) but those illustrations he includes clearly bear the initials L.G.F. which do not correspond to Luke Fildes’ initials (he would be S.L.F. if anything – having been christened Samuel), so I think we may disregard Fildes as a red herring.

It is hard to imagine the woman depicted here by Fawkes as the fascinating but dangerous Winifred Hurtle of Trollope’s novel watching her erstwhile lover Paul Montague walk away. She is far better represented by Francis Mosley in the identical scene for the Folio Society edition.

This is one of 20 illustrations provided by Mosley for the Folio Society edition – more than the usual 16 in recognition of the extra length of this enormous book. Of these, of course, the greatest number are devoted to the central character Melmotte who features in seven of the illustrations. His greasy, unctious style is nowhere seen to greater effect than in the depiction of Melmotte welcoming the Emperor of China to a banquet he has personally laid on in his honour.

If Melmotte is the most featured character (appearing in 7 out of the 20 plates) then it is also surely correct that the next most featured “character” is the city itself which features no less than six times. Instantly recognisible buildings include the interior quadrangle of the Foreign Office in Whitehall, Westminster Hall within the Houses of Parliament, the arch at Euston Station (pulled down in the early 1960s) and the facade of Kings Cross station from which Emma Carbury emerges to confront her rival Winifred Hurtle in nearby Angel Islington towards the end of the novel.

Interestingly, Mosley choses to include more depictions of the villain Sir Felix Carbury (5), seen below at his favoured club, the disreputable Beargarden, than the rather weak male lead – I hesitate to use the term “hero” since his behaviour is anything but heroic – Paul Montague, who is seen only once in the company of Mrs Hurtle. The style of this and other illustrations of Carbury is similar to the cartoonish send ups of public figures, including Trollope himself, which apoeared in satirical magazines at the time such as Punch. With his waxed moustache he is every inch the silent era Hollywood villain.

Mosley shows willingness to attempt the unusual in his illustrations for the Folio edition. He even includes a map of the route for the great South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway which, were it ever to make an appearance in the real world beyond Melmotte’s financial scam, would have run from San Francisco via Salt Lake City to Veracruz. This wonderful sketch map demonstrates more clearly than a dozen paragraphs of prose why the scheme could never be for real linking three such disoarate locations be which there could never be demand for travel or traffic in goods.

Mosley actually provided illustrations for four Trollope novels in the Folio Society edition. In addition to The Way We Live Now, he also illustrated The Vicar of Bullhampton, Cousin Henry and John Caldigate. These are all darker, more psychologically challenging or with more controversial, for the late Victorian era, subject matter. As such they are well suited to Mosley’s style which is more adventurous and experimental than, say, that required for some if Trollope’s more straightforward love stories of the genteel middle classes if Engkand.

We are thus treated to a “portrait” of the Methodist Chapel that looms so large in the plot of The Vicar of Bullhampton, which is portrayed with the same overwhelming nature through the use of a low perspective as are the massive buildings of the city of London in The Way We Live Now.

In Cousin Henry we not only see the eponymous central character brooding alone in several different illustrations, often in poses with his head in his hand, but we also see his internal turmoil expressed through the visual metaphor of the crashing waves on the rocks which appear to be enticing him towards a way out of his mental torment through an act of suicide as he stands a lonely, tiny figure at the top of the cliffs almost lost within the landscape. This image is reminiscent of the illustration in The Way We Live Now in which the tiny figure of Melmotte walks alone, snubbed by the other Members of Parliament, across the vast space of Westminster Hall on his final appearance in the House before his actual suicide. No doubt Mosley intends readers who have collected the Folio series to make this connection.

This ability to create oppressive moods or atmosphere is one which Mosley carries through into his other works for the Folio Society, for whom he illustrated both the edition of the collection of Sherlock Holmes stories and also the works of Joseph Conrad, as well as, by way of compkete contrast, Tolikien’s The Silmarillion fir which he created an almost mediaeval wood-cut style appropriate to that fantasy genre.

Mosley’s illustrations for John Caldigate also provided direct inspiration for the recent graphic novel re-imagining of the story by Simon Grennan, published as Courir Deux Lievres (“Running Two Hares”) for the large French-speaking market for that form and Dispossession for the English-speaking market. This early scene by Mosley is reproduced by Grennan in almost all its details even down to thecaption taken from Trollope’s original dialogue.

Grennan in his cartoon strip illustrations of the scene gives not only the perspective depicted by Mosley, which might be regarded as analagous to the author’s stated perspective, qbut also circles round each scene, such as this, to depict it from different angles thereby hoping to convey a sense of the ambiguity in the scenes – an ambiguity – did the hero, or did he not, marry Mrs Smith while working in Australia – that lies at the heart ofthe book’s plot.

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