Daniel Mulhall, the Ambassador of Ireland
Michael Williamson, Chairman of The Trollope Society
The Irish Embassy was the venue last night for the London launch of John McCourt’s book Writing The Frontier: Anthony Trollope Between Britain and Ireland.
The Ambassador likened Trollope’s role in the 19th century to his own in the 21st, acting as a bridge between the two islands, with a foot on both shores.
Laura Marcus, Goldsmith’s Professor of Englush Literature at the University of Oxford, observed that John McCourt brought equally formidable intellect to bare whether studying and lecturing on James Joyce at the Trieste Joyce School which he set up in 1997 or Trollope as he has done over the last decade in writing this book.
Michael Williamson represented the Trollope Society and recalled how reading Castle Richmond gave him a new and more empathetic insight into the vexed history (to borrow a term used by the Ambassador earlier) of the island of Ireland which provided him with a counter perspective to that he was seeing in the news at the time during the height of The Troubles.
Roy Foster, Carroll Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford, gave an irreverent look at Trollope concluding that with characters like Burgo Fitzgerald, he had the great merit of making his Irish characters “sexy”.
John McCourt concluded the evening answering questions from the audience and responded to one question that had Trollope written only the seven Irish novels and none of the forty other “English” novels then undoubtedly he would be included in the pantheon of great Irish writers alongside Joyce, Yeats, Swift and others.