The Terence Rattigan Society held its annual birthday dinner to mark what would have been Rattigan’s 107th birthday on Tuesday 10th June and I was privileged to be invited as a guest. The event took place at the Oxford and Cambridge Club on Pall Mall – Rattigan was an alumnus of Trinity College, Oxford.
The evening was marked by the formal appointment of Julian Fellowes as a Vice President of the Society – he holds an equivalent position in the Trollope Society and featured a special guest speaker Professor John Bertolini, the Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Professor Bertolini spoke movingly of the fluctuations in the critical reception by students of Rattigan as a playwright throughout his long career. He had seen Rattigan all but dismissed in decades past as “weak tea” but in recent years had seen a resurgence of interest in his plays with a recognition of the powerful yet understated emotions of his characters that gives his works an authenticity lacking in more exaggerated roles that had previously found favour with his students.
London Walks Guide Paul Baker is leading another guided tour around more of Trollope’s London on Sunday 1st July.
Paul’s latest walk will take us through perhaps the two most famously beautiful areas of central London: St James’s and Mayfair. We meet outside Green Park tube station (Piccadilly south side exit). The route will take us from Green Park to Piccadilly, by way of the famous Jermyn Street, Bond Street, Savile Row and the beautifully recently extended Royal Academy.
As usual, the streets and squares we pass will reveal close connections with Anthony’s life and work. On this walk, we will hear fascinating stories of the great man’s dealings with publishers: both delightful and disastrous!
Recommended reading, if you have time, is Is He Popenjoy?
The tour should last just under two hours, and ends near Piccadilly Circus station.
We meet at on Sunday 1st July at 1.50pm for a 2pm start, and the walk costs £10pp, with the option of afternoon tea following the walk (extra charge).
The decision last year to close two thirds of Bristol’s libraries as an economy measure has been reversed following a vociferous campaign by local people to save the threatened branches. For so many reasons this campaign was right and it is heartening to see it succeed.
Taking place on 22 June at the National Liberal Club in London, The Trollope Society is running an all-day conference on Trollope the Travel-writer.
Anthony Trollope was probably the most travelled of the nineteenth century novelists, undertaking overseas journeys on behalf of the Post Office as well as travelling widely for personal reasons. During all his journeys he continued to observe and write. During the day we will consider how these experiences influenced his work and we will also review work relating to Trollope being undertaken throughout the World today.
In addition to this, the Conference will commemorate the 140th anniversary of Anthony’s journey to Iceland with ‘The Mastiffs’ in 1878.
The cost of the day will be £45 per person which will include a working lunch and light refreshments. Places are limited so early application is advised. Alternatively you can join by webinar, price £10.00.
9.30: Registration and Coffee
10.00: Welcome: Dominic Edwardes. Trollope Society Chairman
Part 1: Cause and Effect
10.05: Tales of All Countries: An Introduction by Michael G Williamson
10.30: The Irish Connection: Howard Gregg M.A.
11.00: Seminar Groups covering UK Travel, Europe, Americas and Rest of the World
12.00: Plenary Session
12.30: Working Lunch
Part 2: Worldwide Trollope: Current Research and Publication Initiatives throughout the World
13.30: Tales of All Countries 2: An Introduction by Michael G Williamson
13.40: Trollope in Europe: Professor David Skilton
14.05: Reception in Japan: Professor Haruno Kayama Watanabe
14.30: Refreshment break
14.50: A Walk in a Wood: Panel led discussion on the Way Forward identifying projects and activities for the future
15.45: The Last Chronicle?: Concluding remarks
16.00: Conference concludes
To book your place at the conference go to:
If you’re unable to travel to London for the conference, you can join by webinar, to register go to:
To mark five decades of the Booker Prize the judges have selected five past winners, one from each decade, for a public vote to determine the greatest (if tbere can be such a thing).
The five shortlisted books are:
In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul;
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively;
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje;
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel;
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
You can vote online at:
Just as an aside, I wonder if any of the authors share Trollope’s doubts about the permanence of his position in the canon of English Literature and entertain the same doubts that he would no longer be read 100 years hence?
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.”