It is with deep sadness…

that I must record the death of my friend Martin Chown.

I have known Martin for a more than twenty years through our shared enthusiasm for Anthony Trollope’s writing. In that time I have attended countless seminars that he has organised in London to discuss Trollope’s novels. In these discussions, Martin could always be relied upon to recall those esoteric details that so many of us miss and which lend Trollope his unparalleled air of verisimilitude in his representation of the middle class life of the Victorian era.

Martin was a tireless member of the Trollope Society committee and, in his role supporting the running of seminar groups around the country, contributed as much as anyone in bringing Trollope’s work to the attention of readers, which, of course, is the primary objective of the Society.

I shall also remember Martin, from my time with him on the committee, for his personal charm and the diffident air with which he would voice his opinions. He was ever one to defer to others, even those whose views might be less solidly grounded than his own, in order to achieve a compromise and reach a consensus decision.

There will be a Memorial Celebration for Martin on Thursday, August 30th 2018 at 12.00 noon at ARC St John’s Arts and Recreation Centre, Old Harlow CM17 0AJ. Refreshments will be provided and the event, which is intended to be a celebration of Martin’s life and work, will be followed by the burial of his ashes at Epping Forest Burial Park CM16 6AD (estimated time roughly 14.30pm).

It would be helpful, if you intend to go to Martin’s Memorial, if you could e-mail the Society ( in order that numbers can be known in advance for the catering and other arrangements.

For those coming by train, the nearest Station is HARLOW MILL which is on the line from Paddington. The HARLOW TOWN Station is in the New Town and will probably require a taxi journey.


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Terence Rattigan Birthday Dinner

The Terence Rattigan Society held its annual birthday dinner to mark what would have been Rattigan’s 107th birthday on Tuesday 10th June and I was privileged to be invited as a guest. The event took place at the Oxford and Cambridge Club on Pall Mall – Rattigan was an alumnus of Trinity College, Oxford.

The evening was marked by the formal appointment of Julian Fellowes as a Vice President of the Society – he holds an equivalent position in the Trollope Society and featured a special guest speaker Professor John Bertolini, the Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Professor Bertolini spoke movingly of the fluctuations in the critical reception by students of Rattigan as a playwright throughout his long career. He had seen Rattigan all but dismissed in decades past as “weak tea” but in recent years had seen a resurgence of interest in his plays with a recognition of the powerful yet understated emotions of his characters that gives his works an authenticity lacking in more exaggerated roles that had previously found favour with his students.

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Trollope Walk through St James’s and Mayfair

London Walks Guide Paul Baker is leading another guided tour around more of Trollope’s London on Sunday 1st July.

Paul’s latest walk will take us through perhaps the two most famously beautiful areas of central London: St James’s and Mayfair. We meet outside Green Park tube station (Piccadilly south side exit). The route will take us from Green Park to Piccadilly, by way of the famous Jermyn Street, Bond Street, Savile Row and the beautifully recently extended Royal Academy.

As usual, the streets and squares we pass will reveal close connections with Anthony’s life and work. On this walk, we will hear fascinating stories of the great man’s dealings with publishers: both delightful and disastrous!

Recommended reading, if you have time, is Is He Popenjoy?

The tour should last just under two hours, and ends near Piccadilly Circus station.

We meet at on Sunday 1st July at 1.50pm for a 2pm start, and the walk costs £10pp, with the option of afternoon tea following the walk (extra charge).

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Bristol libraries saved

The decision last year to close two thirds of Bristol’s libraries as an economy measure has been reversed following a vociferous campaign by local people to save the threatened branches. For so many reasons this campaign was right and it is heartening to see it succeed.


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Worldwide Trollope Conference


Taking place on 22 June at the National Liberal Club in London, The Trollope Society is running an all-day conference on Trollope the Travel-writer.

Anthony Trollope was probably the most travelled of the nineteenth century novelists, undertaking overseas journeys on behalf of the Post Office as well as travelling widely for personal reasons. During all his journeys he continued to observe and write. During the day we will consider how these experiences influenced his work and we will also review work relating to Trollope being undertaken throughout the World today.
In addition to this, the Conference will commemorate the 140th anniversary of Anthony’s journey to Iceland with ‘The Mastiffs’ in 1878.

The cost of the day will be £45 per person which will include a working lunch and light refreshments. Places are limited so early application is advised. Alternatively you can join by webinar, price £10.00.

Draft Programme
9.30: Registration and Coffee
10.00: Welcome: Dominic Edwardes. Trollope Society Chairman
Part 1: Cause and Effect
10.05: Tales of All Countries: An Introduction by Michael G Williamson
10.30: The Irish Connection: Howard Gregg M.A.
11.00: Seminar Groups covering UK Travel, Europe, Americas and Rest of the World
12.00: Plenary Session
12.30: Working Lunch
Part 2: Worldwide Trollope: Current Research and Publication Initiatives throughout the World
13.30: Tales of All Countries 2: An Introduction by Michael G Williamson
13.40: Trollope in Europe: Professor David Skilton
14.05: Reception in Japan: Professor Haruno Kayama Watanabe
14.30: Refreshment break
14.50: A Walk in a Wood: Panel led discussion on the Way Forward identifying projects and activities for the future
15.45: The Last Chronicle?: Concluding remarks
16.00: Conference concludes

To book your place at the conference go to:

If you’re unable to travel to London for the conference, you can join by webinar, to register go to:



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Golden Man Booker Prize

To mark five decades of the Booker Prize the judges have selected five past winners, one from each decade, for a public vote to determine the greatest (if tbere can be such a thing).

The five shortlisted books are:

In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul; 

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively; 

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje; 

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
You can vote online at:

Just as an aside, I wonder if any of the authors share Trollope’s doubts about the permanence of his position in the canon of English Literature and entertain the same doubts that he would no longer be read 100 years hence?

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London Seminar at Trollope Christening Church

The London Seminar Group of the Trollope Society met to discuss The Bertrams at St George’s Church in Bloomsbury. Before the discussion, the group was given a private guided tour of the church, which is where Anthony was christened.

London seminar at st georges

(Photo courtesy of Nicky Barnes)

The church spire can just be discerned in the background to Hogarth’s depiction of the squalor and degradation of the nearby Rookeries (a copy of which appears outside the church).


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