It seems almost incredible that we have reached the middle of Anthony Trollope’s Bicentenary year and, so far, the response to all the activities and the related initiatives and events from organisations, media and enthusiasts all around the World has exceeded all expectations.
The early discovery of a new Trollope family photograph closely followed by the Great Barset Balloonathon made an early impact in the media everywhere. Small clusters of biodegradable balloons were released in all the many places visited by Trollope during his lifetime ranging from Central Park, New York to the Trollope Trail in Ireland. From a beach in Australia to a volcano in Iceland. Finally 200 balloons were released from the Piazza of the British Library. Each balloon carried a biodegradable label and anyone finding and returning one before the closing date received a free Trollope novel.
This was all part of the Trollope Big Read which will continue throughout the year and is part of our aim to get everybody to ‘Try a Trollope’. We have donated hundreds of Trollope novels through BookAid to Libraries and Universities in the Third World. We are working to complete the full range of novels in Talking Books for the RNIB and, at our Birthday Dinner at the Athenaeum every guest received copies of a Trollope novel, kindly donated by OUP, with the request that they should pass at least one on to someone who had never read a Trollope before. On that occasion, Julian Fellowes made the first announcement that the projected end of Downton Abbey would shortly be followed by his TV dramatization of Dr Thorne.
Lectures, exhibitions and special events will continue throughout the year and Anthony’s former employer, Royal Mail, has launched Trollope First Day Covers, Presentation Packs, a commemorative Stamp Pack and, following the birthday, a special post mark on all UK stamped mail. Their touring exhibition is moving around the country and they have placed commemorative plaques on the sites of the first pillar boxes erected following Trollope’s inspired suggestion.
Related publications have so far ranged from Nigel Starke’s The First Celebrity (Anthony Trollope’s Australasian Odyssey) to John McCourt’s Writing the Frontier, dealing with Anthony’s extensive links with Ireland. From Simon Grennan’s first graphic adaptation of John Caldigate, already published in France and soon to be launched in the UK and America, to the wonderful original extended version of The Duke’s Children which, already having appeared in fine edition format, will, hopefully, shortly be available in trade edition form as the definitive text.
Media coverage throughout the World has been positive and enthusiastic. From Country Life to The Church Times. From The New Yorker to the Wall St Journal. Hopefully the profile and significance of Trollope has been considerably raised and we hope this will continue throughout the rest of the year and into the future.
We have now commemorated his birth in Keppel St and his christening at St George’s, Bloomsbury and much, much more. Ahead of us lies the specially commissioned production of Lady Anna All at Sea at the Park Theatre, London and the Academic Conference in Leuven in September. The year will finally conclude with a wreath laying ceremony in Westminster Abbey on December 4th which will feature a specially commissioned work for the ‘cello, in memory of Mr Harding, and will, of course, be followed by a further celebratory Dinner at the House of Lords.
So please continue to support our work and varied activities. Try a Trollope! Participate in the Trollope Big Read and ultimately, in the immortal words of Harold Macmillan, always go to bed with a good Trollope and continue to actively perpetuate his memory!
Michael G Williamson
Chairman: The Trollope Society