Monthly Archives: May 2017

Illustrating Trollope: The Last Chronicle of Barset

We come to the final article in this series looking at the illustrations used by the Trollope Society and the Folio Society for their complete editions of Trollope’s novels. The Trollope Society took original illustrations, frequently from the first editions, or indeed the magazine serialisations, of the novels to illustrate thirteen of the forty seven novels while the Folio Society commissioned new illustrations by contemporary artists. It seems fitting therefore that we end with what Trollope regarded as one of his finest works: The Last Chronicle of Barset. This was illustrated in the original 32 part serialisation by George Housman Thomas. These illustrations were reproduced in the two volume first edition published by Smith, Elder and Co. Twelve of these 32 illustrations appear in the Trollope Society edition, including the frontispiece above, depicting Reverend Crawley facing the magistrate’s bench. The Folio Society edition features sixteen illustrations which, like the illustrations for the rest of the Barsetshire novels, are drawn by Alexy Pendle.

Perhaps surprisingly, only one scene in the entire novel is illustrated in both the Trollope Society and Folio Society editions but even then the artists chose to depict different moments from that scene, which takes place near the very end of the book, when Johnny Eames faces a final confrontation with Madalina Demolines with whom he has pursued a dalliance as a distraction from his ill-fated love for Lily Dale. While the Trollope Society edition takes Thomas’s depiction of the moment when Madalina collapses in his arms as her mother conveniently enters the room to witness them in a clinch (a honeytrap if ever there was one, if I may borrow the term, anachronistically, from the spy-thriller genre) that may be depicted within the conventions of the day, the Folio Society edition features the comic climax of the same scene when Johnny throws open the sash window and calls down to a passing policeman to wait for him to make his ignominious exit in safety from the clutches of the two women.

In a separate sub-plot of the novel, we also find that confrontations between Clara Van Siever and her mother are depicted in both editions and again that these portrayals are very different. Notwithstanding that the quarrels depicted occur in different chapters the gist of the argument in each case is the same – the mother is haranguing her daughter about her relationship with the penniless artist Conway Dalrymple. Both Thomas and Pendle capture the domineering character of the mother although Thomas does so while showing both women standing and draws both full-length whereas Pendle choses to have Clara seated and gives the reader/viewer the daughter’s perspective, looking up at her mother looming over her which reinforces the impression of this attempt by the older woman to browbeat her daughter into submission.

There are in fact four key plot-lines in the novel which are only loosely related. Trollope has not so much sought to tie up the loose ends with this sixth and final Barsetshire novel, as tease out further skeins from which he has woven a complex and altogether epic conclusion to the series which would be perfectly capable of standing alone as one of the peaks of his achievement. The first and most obvious plotline is that of the criminal case against Reverend Crawley over the alleged misappropriation of funds from a cheque, which he cannot adequately give account for having in his possession. The second sub-plot is the romance between Grace Crawley and Major Henry Grantly which is carried on, at least on the part of the Major, in the face of the displeasure of his father, the archdeacon. The third sub-plot is the continuation of the doomed romance between Lily Dale and Johnny Eames which has been carried over from the preceding novel, The Small House at Allington. The fourth sub-plot is the romance of Clara Van Siever and Conway Dalrymple. So Trollope, true to form, mixes in a love story (or three in this case) to leaven the serious business of the criminal case.

The relative weight given to each of these strands highlights a difference in approach between the Trollope Society and Folio Society editions.

Of the twelve illustrations in the Trollope Society edition, three (25%) are taken from the “main” theft storyline while four (25% again) of the sixteen illustrations in the Folio edition are from this thread. Both feature an illustration of the investigator, Mr Toogood, with servants who are “helping him with his enquiries” albeit these are again from completely different occasions in the course of his investigation. However, only the Trollope Society edition directly includes illustrations of the actual court case while the Folio Society edition depicts characters in scenes peripheral to the actual court scenes. Nevertheless, this main plot of the novel receives equal prominence in both editions.

However, the second storyline, the romance between Grace Crawley and Major Grantly, is featured in four (33%) of the illustrations in the Trollope Society edition and five – in one guise or another (but therefore only 30%) of the Folio Society edition – downplaying its importance for Folio readers. Though neither edition depicts the couple alone together, the Trollope Society edition in fact does show them in a scene together but they are in the company of Mrs Robarts and so there is no risk of overtly romantic imagery. Otherwise both editions show them individually as their romance progresses – such as the scene above where Grace Crawley leaves the position she has at the school run by Miss Prettyman and her sister when the older women display their affection for her. This scene is drawn by Alexy Pendle and again may be taken as the parallel of a different scene from another chapter in which the same characters are depicted by George H. Thomas. As with the depiction of the Van Siever mother and daughter, Thomas depicts the characters full length in the centre of a room while Pendle chooses to bring one character very much into the foreground and place the others in the background to create a much greater feeling for the reader/viewer of inhabiting the same space as the characters depicted.

Conversely the third plot, the Johnny Eames/Lily Dale romance (with its attendant feature of Johnny’s “bit on the side” – to use another anachronism but one that captures the careless sense with which Johnny describes this relationship to his friend Dalrymple as an amusing distraction from his woes with Lily) features in only two pictures (17%) in the Trollope Society edition whereas, in its various forms, it commands five (approaching 30%) in the Folio edition. However, only the Trollope Society edition includes a picture of Johnny and Lily together (see below – at the moment she attempts to kill all his hopes with a wish that they should be as brother and sister to one another) whereas the Folio Society edition never depicts the two together. Lily is only depicted with Grace Crawley and with a “safe pair of hands” Siph Dunn with whom she goes out riding without any risk of suspected impropriety. Johnny is depicted twice in the context of his relationship with Madalina and she appears herself in a distinctly come hither pose, seen from Johnny’s perspective.

It is interesting also to consider the selection process undergone by the Trollope Society to whittle down the 32 original illustrations to the 12 used in its edition. This reveals a distinct bias in the relative weighting given to the different storylines. The table below shows the effect of this selection.

Plotline Smith Elder Trollope Society Folio Society
Mr Crawley, theft of cheque 10 (32%) 3 (25%) 4 (25%)
Grace Crawley/Henry Grantly romance 11 (35%) 4 (33%) 5 (30%)
Lily Dale/Johnny Eames romance 5 (16%) 2 (17%) 4/5 (25-30%)
Clara Van Siever/ Conway Dalrymple romance 3 (10%) 1 (8%) 2 (13%)
Mr Harding 2 (7%) 2 (17%) 1 (7%)

All editions, when considered from the perspective of the illustrations, give marginally more weight to the Grace Crawley/Henry Grantly romance than to the other plotlines with the theft storyline, ostensibly the main plot, marginally lower weight.

However, while the Folio Society gives second billing to the Lily Dale/Johnny Eames romance, the Trollope Society follows the original Smith Elder weighting and gives it less prominence than the two principal storylines.

The most significant difference in the choice of illustrations is, however, actually tangential to the various storylines that run through the novel. The novel marks the final appearance of the much loved character Mr Harding, the eponymous protagonist of Trollope’s first Barchester novel, The Warden. Here the old man is depicted not once but twice in the Trollope Society edition which keeps both illustrations from the Smith Elder edition that focus on Mr Harding – fully one sixth of the total illustrations – and on each occasion he is shown seated with a favoured grandchild (below with Posy, his favourite daughter Eleanor’s child by her second husband) or great-grandchild on his knee. He appears not at all in the Folio edition but the frontispiece of that edition depicts an elderly bedesman, Bunce, who will be remembered by readers from his appearance in The Warden, commiserating with Eleanor after her father’s death. Is the Trollope Society reflecting the sentimentality of the Victorian readers with its chocolate box images of the old man and children? Is the Folio Society attempting to address upfront the personal grief that readers may be experiencing at the loss of such a beloved character?

Michael Sadleir has argued that Trollope was so uncomfortable with the portrayal of his characters by George Thomas that he thereafter took little interest in the illustrations of his works.  Certainly, Trollope is thought to have favoured Millais as his illustrator though Thomas was preferred over Millais for the illustration of The Last Chronicle of Barset.

Thomas had already achieved prominence for his illustrations of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha, having lived for a number of years in America, and for Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield before working on The Last Chronicle of Barset.


He had also exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy and been commissioned by Queen Victoria to paint a number of official occasions including the presentation of the first Victoria Cross medals in 1857, visits she made to Aldershot with Prince Albert in 1859 and various royal marriages including that of the Prince of Wales. 


Thomas died in 1868 not long after working on the illustrations for Trollope’s novel.

I will end this series with views expressed by Ellen Moody with which I agree:

“when done right [I] find book illustrations can add so much to a reader’s experience. Unfortunately since the turn of the 19th century (Henry James one of the culprits who talked against illustrators), illustrations have been castigated or mocked, and often the illustrators are not paid enough and their work not taken seriously or they themselves create half-trivializing cartoons, with the result only “collector’s items” of books (expensive, where the illustrator is well paid and can be a good artist) have well done work.”

Ellen has also written on illustrating Trollope and her articles can be found at:

I should also add a small note of personal thanks to Sarah Feather who kindly provided me with information on the illustrations for the Smith Elder first edition which helped in the writing of this article.



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New Jane Austen serial publication

I have recently been introduced to a fabulous website which publishes Victorian literature in serial format – the way it was originally read by contemporary audiences in the 19th century. The site, has just started to publish Austen’s letters to her sister Cassandra written during the Summer of 1799 while Austen was living in Bath. The letters provide a unique insight into her life and the social world of the spa at the end of turn of the century. They also make reference to proof copies of Pride and Prejudice which the family were sharing years before the eventual publication of the novel.

I am also receiving weekly emails from the site with instalments of Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop. I am looking forward to discovering whether, in the judgment of Oscar Wilde, I have a heart of stone when I reach the death of Little Nell. (LOL, as we now phrase it in textspeak.)

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Illustrating Trollope: other novels

So far in this series of articles, we have considered twelve of the thirteen novels that are illustrated in the Trollope Society edition and compared these, which use illustrations by Millais, Phiz, Stone, Hall, Whymper and Edwards taken from first editions or serial publication of the novels, with their modern equivalents in the Folio Society edition which are illustrated by contemporary artists. These have included Alexy Pendle (the six Barchester novels plus four standalones making her the most utilised artist in the Folio edition); Llewellyn Thomas (the six Palliser novels and three standalones); Shirley Bellwood (three standalones); David Eccles (one standalone); Francis Moseley (four standalones); Patrick Benson (one standalone); and Kate Aldous (two standalones). We will now turn our attention to the Folio Society editions of the seventeen novels illustrated by other artists for which there is no comparitor within the Trollope Society edition.

The first of these is Rod Waters who provided illustrations for five novels: Castle RichmondNina Balatka, Harry Heathcote of Gangoil, Marion Fay and An Old Man’s Love.  The illustration above is a comic scene, loaded with double entendres, in which Lord Hampstead teases Marion by making her stoke the fire with his poker in the presence of Mrs Roden so that “She could hardly do other than take it in her hand.  She took it and blushed up to the roots of her hair…’Oh, Mrs Roden’, said Marion, ‘I wish I hadn’t done it.’ ‘It doesn’t matter. It was only a joke.'” Whether a Victorian artist would have felt comfortable illustrating this scene, packed by Trollope with innuendo that would be expected to go over the heads of the more innocent family members while amusing the adults, there is much fun for the modern illustrator in selecting such a scene to be depicted. Can he achieve the same level of adult humour while maintaining the apparent innocence of the scene?

Rod, in addition to his artistic talents, is also an accomplished cyclist and cycling coach. In 1997 he broke the world record time for a cycle ride from London to Paris with a time a little over 14 hours. No doubt this passion for cycling accounts for one of his other ventures as author and illustrator of the children’s book, Eric’s Big Day.


We will continue the sporting theme, and select another unusual Trollope novel – his venture into the realms of dystopian sci-fi with the satirical The Fixed Period. This title was illustrated in the Folio edition by Eliza Trimby, who also provided the illustrations for The Macdermots of Ballycloran and An Eye For An Eye.  Here we see the moment when the home team of Britannula’s steam-punk bowling contraption, set up by Jack Neverbend, removes the bails of Lord Kennington Oval with the first ball of his innings. The players’ extra padding and helmets, which were completely unknown in the Victorian game, are as described by a remarkably prescient Trollope with the batsman “completely enveloped…in his india-rubber guards, and so wonderful was the machine upon his head, by which his brain and features were protected.”

Eliza Trimby, in addition to her work for the Folio Society is best known for her illustrations of children’s books such as the Puffin edition of Peter Pan.


Continuing the exotic theme, but a little closer to home than the fictional south sea island of Britannula, Peter Brookes provided the illustrations for The Bertrams and managed to include middle eastern and foreign locations for seven of the sixteen illustrations. Sometimes this was merely the depiction of a mosque in the background of a portrait of principal characters but sometimes, as below, he managed to include not only a location, such as the pyramids near Cairo, but also a camel and a suitably dressed “Englishman Abroad”. The camel’s expression, in this image, captures both the stupidity and the superciliousness of the creature in a merciless caricature which gives more than a hint of Brookes’ skills in the field for which he is most famous…

…because, in contrast to many of the artists used by the Folio Society to illustrate its edition of the Trollope novels, whose other work is primarily aimed at children, Peter Brookes, who also illustrated Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite, is best known for his satirical political cartoons aimed very much at an older audience. He was five times named The Times Cartoonist of the Year and showed as little mercy for his political subjects, such as Cameron and Clegg shown here during the coalition government, as he did for the camel.


Shirley Tourret provided the illustrations for Linda Tressel and The American Senator. The first of these is one of Trollope’s two ‘Bohemian’ novels, published anonymously to little public enthusiasm but which gave him opportunity to address difficult modern themes in a “safe”, so far as his British reading public was concerned, foreign location. Although only a slim volume with a mere eight illustrations, Tourret provided a distinctive style to her work which differed from the more restrained illustrations of English settings, with one particularly harrowing depiction of a screaming Linda on her knees before her obdurate, controlling aunt. Tourret manages to convey something of the desperation in the heroine’s doomed bid to escape the clutches of her fate in the illustration of the speeding train by which she left her home, which captures the energy and motion in much the same way as Turner’s painting Rain, Steam and Speed.

Like many of the artists engaged by the Folio Society, Shirley Tourret’s work was frequently illustrating children’s books, such as  The Snow Queen (below) but she also worked on comics and magazines for teenage girls in the 1960s such as Boyfriend magazine. She died in 2007.


The Hungarian artist, Val Biro, provided the illustrations for The Golden Lion of Granpere and The Landleaguers. Biro, living in exile in the UK, provided a distinctive heavy line to his engravings which suited the foreign, alien settings.

Yet this was untypical of much of his work. During the 1950s and 1960s, Biro provided the cover illustrations for a number of famous authors’ works including Nevil Shute and C. S. Forester for whom he provided the cover illustrations of several first editions including  Mr Midshipman HornblowerLieutentant HornblowerHornblower and the Atropos and Hornblower inthe West Indies. However, he is perhaps best loved for his quintessentially English creation, Gumdrop, the blue Healey cabriolet, about which he wrote more than thirty picture books. Biro died in 2014.


In contrast, Barry Wilkinson’s illustrations for Lady Anna, are in a distinctive style which incorporates splatters of ink to convey the emotional intensity of the relationship between mother and daughter. Here Countess Lovel pleads with her daughter to give up the tailor’s son, Daniel Thwaite, reversing the earlier position, also depicted by Wilkinson, in which Lady Anna begs her mother on her knees to be allowed to continue her romance with the young man.

The same technique is used in Wilkinson’s illustrations for a compilation of horror stories, Alfred HItchcock’s Ghostly Gallery, published in 1966. WIlkinson, who was head of Wimbledon College of Art  also worked for a number of children’s publishers such as Puffin, Collins – for whom he illustrated a number of the Paddington Bear books – and for the BBC, providing illustrations for the children’s storytime programme Jackanory. He died in 2007.


Another artist with a “signature” technique was Robin Jacques, the brother of comedy actress Hattie Jacques, who frequently employed a technique known as stippling to achieve the effects of light and shade in his illustrations. This involves applying fewer dots or small bars of colour to create the impression of a well-illuminated area and more dots or bars in areas of contrasting shadow. He used this technique in the illustration of Dr Wortle’s School as in the confrontation in the United States between the English clergyman and teacher Mr Peacocke and Ferdy Lefroy who has been blackmailing his wife.

Robin Jacques provided illustrations for more than 100 novels and children’s books. He is best known for his long collaboration with Ruth Manning-Sanders, illustrating many of her collections of  fairy tales and other stories from all over the world. Jacques died in 1995.


The final artist used by the Folio Society in its complete edition of Trollope’s novels was Robert Geary who illustrated Ayala’s Angel. He brought a mischievous sense of humour to bring out the underlying comedy of this tale. This final illustration finds Ayala Dormer and her sister Lucy in the artist Isadore Hamel’s workshop just prior to Ayala’s marriage to Colonel Stubbs and Lucy’s marriage to the sculptor.  One has only to follow the line of their gaze to be aware of what is looming large in the young women’s minds at their forthcoming nuptials.


Such adult playfulness would be out of place in the majority of Geary’s work providing illustrations for children’s books including titles such as Dracula in Sunlight by Chris Powling, so no doubt he enjoyed the opportunity to indulge himself with such jokes in his work for the Folio Society.



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Trollope Society Dinner at Great Hall, Middle Temple

It was a great pleasure to attend the Trollope Society Dinner in the splendid surroundings of the Great Hall, Middle Temple. The hall is regarded by many as the finest remaining example of an Elizabethan Hall in the UK. Built in 1562 with a magnificent double hammer beam roof with a 41 foot span, it is wood panelled with stained glass windows commemorating figures associated with the Inn including Edward VII, Sir Walter Raleigh and Edward Osborne, Lord Mayor in 1583.

Guests of the Society at the High Table, which was constructed out of four 29 foot long planks fcut rom a single oak tree gifted to the Inn by Elizabeth I, included: Sir John Major, Lord Dyson (former Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice, and a Justice of the Supreme Court – not the glorified “Hoover” inventor), Susan Hampshire, Julian Fellowes and his wife Lady Emma, Joanna Trollope, Hugh and Barbara Trollope, and Professor Steven Amarnick.

After dinner, Chairman of the Trollope Society, Michael Williamson, formally announced that Susan Hampshire has kindly agreed to become a vice president of the Society and Professor Amarnick, whose work with his team to reconstruct the full version of The Duke’s Children is now available in a reasonably priced trade hardback through Everyman, proposed the toast.

The dinner was punctuated by musical interludes including a specially adapted song “Thirty Years On”, complete with song-along chorus, to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the Trollope Society.

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