The London Seminar Group of the Trollope Society met to discuss The Bertrams at St George’s Church in Bloomsbury. Before the discussion, the group was given a private guided tour of the church, which is where Anthony was christened.
(Photo courtesy of Nicky Barnes)
The church spire can just be discerned in the background to Hogarth’s depiction of the squalor and degradation of the nearby Rookeries (a copy of which appears outside the church).
Michael Keyton has written a book on Trollope’s depiction of the English landed gentry. Available as both paperback and ebook, Michael explains:
“One of Trollope’s last books, The Fixed Period reveals his vision of the 1980’s; one still dominated by steam and landed power. The British Empire remains intact, ruling unchallenged in lieu of America, which has fragmented. It explains the title of this book. For Trollope, landed power and its politics controlled the future. He could not foresee—or didn’t want to—any alternative. The sci-fi aspects of The Fixed Period are risible. His exploration of Euthanasia is, on the other hand, profound.
And as for his conviction that landed power would dominate the future that, too, is understandable. Trollope had invested so much in it as the great chronicler of English Landed Society
Books on Anthony Trollope have tended to emphasise the biographical, social convention or else offer analyses of Trollope’s moral code. There has been little, if anything, written about Trollope as the literary expression of a landed society during a period of flux.
Anthony Trollope: Power, Land and Society 1847 – 1980 makes the argument that Trollope’s canon constitutes a profound exploration of Nineteenth Century landed society, providing insights into the cultural and political mores of great and small landowners, as well as the economic opportunities and problems they faced during a period of transformation; his characters, too, subtly illustrate the dilemmas, moral and social that so many Victorians encountered as economic circumstances changed.”
Trollope was a great traveller and used many of his travel experiences to good effect in his short fiction.
I am presently journeying through Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, which lies in the Caucasus on the divide between Europe to the west and Asia to the east. Tbilisi is famous for its hot sulphur baths and on passing them, I was reminded of Trollope’s short story The Turkish Bath.
This, the first story of his collection of Editor’s Tales, relates how a hapless editor is pursued by a would-be writer even into the hammam Turkish bath where he is forced to promise to read the man’s manuscripts in order to be left in peace. This experimental piece features much of the ritual of the hammam – the vigourous lathering, scrubbing and massage of the naked men – in a daring Victorian glimpse of homo-eroticism.
The Trollope Society’s walk through “legal” London to mark his birthday this week set off from Chancery Lane tube station and soon reached Stone Buildings.
Facing onto Chancery Lame to the east and New Square of Lincolns Inn to the west, this building housed the offices of a number of the lawyers consulted by characters in Trollope’s novels The Belton Estate, Barchester Towers and Castle Richmond including the wonderfully named Neversaye Die and Mr Wharton had an office here in The Prime Minister.
We continue round the chambers of Lincolns Inn to reach the far side and enter Lincolns Inn Fields.
Here, Miss Mackenzie entered this, the largest square in London, via the archways that can still be traversed in the northwest corner of the square to consult her lawyers next to the old turnstile in the northeast corner.
From here we crossed Kingsway and reached Bow Street and its famouspolice station cum magistrates court.
It was here that Phineas Finn was brought when he was arrested on suspicion of murdering his fellow MP Mr Bonteen before being incarcerated in Newgate prison for his trial.
Just opposite, also on Bow Street, is the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
It was here that the opera singer Miss Rachel O’Mahony appeared in Trollope’s last, unfinished novel The Landleaguers.
The walk ended behind the opera house in Covent Garden itself where in the Tavistock Hotel (now demolished and replaced by the Apple Shop – how times change) Frank Gresham stayed and plotted the horsewhipping of Mr Moffatt outside his club on Pall Mall in Doctor Thorne.