The Trollope Society AGM took place last Thursday evening at the National Liberal Club in London. After conducting the formalities of the AGM, the annual lecture was given by Professor Steven Amarnick on what he calls “The Lost Chronicle of Omnium” – the full length version of The Duke’s Children, which was cut down from its original length by some 22% or 65000 words to comply with the wishes of the editor of the magazine All The Year Round in which it was serialised in weekly parts over 9 months in 1879.
Unfortunately none of the correspondence between Trollope and the editor survives so Professor Amarnick was forced to work solely from the original manuscript, in the library at Yale, to determine what had been cut by Trollope to satisfy the magazine’s demands.
Amarnick identified different types of manual amendments in the document, straight crossings through and wavy line crossings through. The latter appeared to be from the original drafting process and the latter appeared to be the cuts required subsequently for magazine serialisation. However, it was never as clear cut as this and so a painstaking process of reconstruction taking the best part of a dozen years ensued before a definitive full length version was ready.
Professor Amarnick showed how the drastic editing process Trollope undertook was largely focussed on the political background to the novel but also resulted in significantly reduced attention to the development of key characters such as Silverbridge, the Duke’s eldest child.
Professor Amarnick revealed that the final stage of the process for him had been to go through the book and check each one of some 20,000 punctuation marks to ensure they were all in keeping with Trollope’s sometimes idiosyncratic use of commas, semi-colons and dashes to break up his sentences into their constituent clauses.
Professor Amarnick then answered questions from members of the Society covering topics such as whether or not Trollope saw this as a last Palliser novel in the way that The Last Chronicle of Barset served as a conclusion to the Barsetshire series (he thinks not and that Trollope may have had further stories, perhaps relating to the younger children of the Duke, in mind).
David Glass, on behalf of the Society, thanked Professor Amarnick for both his lecture and his years of effort in resurrecting this lost text.
Full details of the AGM proceedings and the lecture will be published in the Society’s regular magazine Trollopiana.