Monthly Archives: March 2015

Election Fever

Trollope famously stood for the seat of Beverley in Yorkshire and singularly failed to impress the local voters. He took the rather unpopular stance of not bribing them with beer which pretty much killed off his chances at the polls.

His Political series includes some fabulous satire at the expense of politicians and their hangers on. It would take a lot for me to feel sorry for George Vavasor but even he elicits sympathy with his outrageous treatment at the hands of the thirsty voters during the general election which so unfortunately follows too close on the heels of his by-election victory for him to raise sufficient funds to “finance” his campaign.

The idea of buying votes – so explicit in Can You Forgive Her? – is still evident today.  There is a vast amount of political calculation that goes into the last budget of a Chancellor before the election – witness George Osborne’s vote-catching ideas a few weeks ago.

 

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Trollope Photobombs Deal Noir

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The pop-up Trollope made an unscheduled appearance at the Deal Noir crime fiction conference taking place over the weekend.

The photo shows Trollope outside Deal Castle, next to which is the former Railway Hotel where Dickens stayed and made a speech to mark the opening of the railway line to Deal in 1847. It is unlikely that Trollope was present on that occasion as his family connection with Dickens – through his sister-in-law Frances Trollope (his brother Thomas’s second wife and elder sister of Ellen Ternan who was Dickens’ mistress)  – only dates from 1866.

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Pop it in the post exhibition at Islington Museum

The Postal Museum and Archive is running an exhibition at the Islington Museum about the explosion in the writing of letters to keep in touch with friends and family, fuelled by the introduction of the pillar box, courtesy of Anthony Trollope’s efforts.

It starts tomorrow.  For more information go to:

http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/events/?c24event=EVENT512422

 

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Don’t Quit The Day Job

As a sometime recipient of the above advice (which I have taken by the way – writing, as I am regularly reminded by the bank deposits of royalties from the publishers, will keep me in wine but rarely allow me to get drunk), I was intrigued by an article in The New York Times Book Review’s annual Money Edition, spotted by Michele Cusack.

Rivka Galchen discusses the fact that many authors never “worked” a day in their lives – indeed, often they relied on the support of their spouses, both financial and in other forms including typing duties, proof reading and all the other tedious tasks with which they couldn’t be bothered. Stand up: Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Mann and, in the interests of avoiding gender bias, Virginia Woolf.

Others, including of course, Anthony Trollope, managed to fit in their writing around their day job. Trollope finally quit the Post Office only a few years before he was scheduled to retire (thereby foregoing the pension which he felt he did not need – which pains me as a former adviser to companies on their pension plans – he certainly shot holes through my “pensions helps recruit and retain staff” argument).

Mohsin Hamid discusses how financial woes can be grist to the writer’s mill. None knew this better than Trollope – his descriptions of the financial woes of his younger male characters (whether they be hobbledehoys or not) reflect his own families struggles. As W H Auden observed, “Trollope best understands the role of money. Compared with him, even Balzac is too romantic.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/books/review/do-money-woes-spur-creativity-or-stifle-it.html?ref=review

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Judging a book by its cover

One of the sad by-products of our shift to reading novels on Kindle is the relegation of the cover art to an almost incidental aspect of the book.

Like the shift from LP to CD and then downloadable music, the effect is to focus the purchase on the content – no bad thing you might think, if we are talking about great literature – but there is no doubt that a great cover can become an intrinsic part of the whole, enhancing the experience, perhaps even shedding new light on the contents in a way that the reader might not have considered.

I can think of the iconic orange cover with the photo of Jack Nicholson in the role of McMurphy in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for the film tie-in edition. Or the red cover with the big title in black and gold for the copy of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. I even have a fondness for the particular editions of the James Bond novels I bought in my youth so much so that when I still scour second hand book stores for the edition of The Spy Who Loved Me which would complete my set in that cover design.

Of course, in the case of Trollope’s books – the novels and the non-fiction – the edition produced by The Trollope Society is beyond compare in its understated yet elegant brown livery for the fiction and the deep blue for the non-fiction.

So let’s take a few moments next time we pick up a book to consider the cover and the work that has gone into it with the aim of increasing our enjoyment.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1dx3JXzzmhZ0S7NhQffgBBv/designing-obsession-the-book-covers-that-brought-art-into-the-home

 

 

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Trollope Bicentenary Stamp Collection

 

Anthony Trollope Commemorative sheet

The Post Office will be issuing commemorative stamps to mark Trollope’s bicentenary.

Norvic Philatelic has the details:

http://blog.norphil.co.uk/2015/03/commemorative-stamp-sheet-marks-anthony.html

 

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The Way We Live Now still the benchmark

I am very grateful to Michele Cusack who spotted that The New York Times annual money edition of its Book Review still references The Way We Live Now as the first benchmark when looking for comparators for books on the social impact of business ethics – or the lack of them – and greed in our modern culture. Not bad for a 140 year old book. 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/books/review/the-way-we-read-now.html?referrer=

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