I was very privileged to be invited to his home by Geordie Greig along with a group of fellow Trollopians. The purpose of the evening was to view Geordie’s remarkable collection of Trollopiana (if that is the correct noun to apply to a collection of Trollope related artifacts – mostly, but not exclusively, books).
Geordie was, I think, at least as enthusiastic as we were. The opportunity to share the delight of rummaging, I can think of no better term, through his collection together with like-minded people was patently a joy to him. (One can imagine the groans and rolled eyeballs that might greet such an offer from those who are less enamoured of Trollope’s writing.)
Geordie spent the evening leaping up as another connection was made and he was constantly shifting his library steps to pull another volume from the floor to ceiling shelves to share with us.
The photo above is of the copy of the petition which was submitted following the investigation into corruption and malpractice at the by-election in the Beverley constituency where Trollope stood and failed to be elected as an M.P. Leafing through the volume, Geordie read entry after entry where voters admitted that they had received 2 shillings or 2s6d to vote for one candidate or another and that this was the customary sum which they expected to receive each election, perhaps supplemented by a glass or more of beer. It is no wonder the constituency was found to be hopelessly corrupt (even by the lax standards of the era) and the election declared void with the constituency then merged into another for the future.
Geordie also has a copy of the official record of the poll result:
Of course, Geordie has first editions and copies of the novels signed by the author. All are lovingly stored in individually constructed slip cases to protect them. I was particularly taken with the part works which he had collected, having myself previously studied research on the subject of Victorian publication of novels in magazines and part work editions. I was surprised at the plain covers used. They were very simple and often featured just the title, author’s name and publisher. The era of lavish external illustrations to market the books was yet to come. Below is the collected part-work publication of Can You Forgive Her?
Sometimes, it was not simply the book itself which was of note but letters or notes slipped within the pages, or inscriptions on the title pages. A first edition of Trollope’s posthumously published Autobiography, inscribed by his son Henry for presentation as a gift to the publisher, becomes suddenly very personal and a poignant reminder of the family’s recent loss which had preceded the publication.
As Geordie explained, there are perhaps half a dozen collectors (or institutions which collect e.g. Ivy League University Libraries in the USA) who are willing to pay the highest prices for rare items relating to Trollope. He is in the tier below with pockets that are somewhat less deep, but nevertheless, he has amassed a beautiful collection which comprehensively covers the entire duration of Trollope’s publishing lifetime (from one of the hundred or fewer surviving copies of the first edition of The Macdermots of Ballycloran through private copies of How The Mastiffs went to Iceland to that posthumous first edition of The Autobiography). It was a genuine pleasure to spend the evening with Geordie, sharing his enthusiasm and each fresh treasure that he revealed for us.