Celebrating Anthony Trollope’s 209th Birthday

Today, 24th April 2024, marks the 209th anniversary of Anthony Trollope’s birth, a man whose life was as diverse as his talents. While primarily recognised as a prolific author, Trollope also achieved success as a civil servant within the Post Office, embarking on global travels for both official duties and personal enjoyment.

Trollope’s literary success is indisputable, his output included 47 novels, numerous short stories, and non-fiction works. His novels, including his six Barsetshire novels and six Parliamentary or Palliser novels, offer incisive commentary on Victorian society and human nature. Trollope’s ability to craft compelling narratives and complex characters remains a testament to his enduring relevance in the literary world.

In addition to his literary endeavours, Trollope made significant contributions as a civil servant. Rising through the ranks to become senior official in the Post Office, he is credited with introducing the pillar box to the UK and implementing reforms that revolutionised postal services in Ireland and beyond. Trollope’s pragmatic approach and commitment to efficiency left an indelible mark on the infrastructure of communication during his time.

Following in the footsteps of his mother, Frances Trollope, who was herself a celebrated author and traveller, Trollope travelled widely both on Post Office business and for pleasure. Trollope travelled to Australia on board the SS Great Britain in 1871. During the voyage he wrote Lady Anna, published in 1873. He travelled across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, South America, the Caribbean, and the United States. He was perhaps one of the most travelled men of his day. His travels provided rich material for his writing and broadened his understanding of the world. Everywhere Trollope travelled he wrote, both non-fiction travelogues and fiction.

This week, the Trollope Society is visiting Winchester, a city steeped in significance for Trollope enthusiasts. Visits to Winchester College and The Hospital of St Cross, which served as inspiration for Hiram’s Hospital in The Warden, are included in the trip. These locations offer a tangible connection to the settings that shaped his narratives and continue to captivate readers worldwide.

As we commemorate Anthony Trollope’s 209th birthday, we celebrate not only his literary achievements but also his contribution to the Civil Service and the pleasure that he has given his readers. His enduring influence serves as a reminder of the profound impact one individual can have. Happy birthday, Anthony Trollope!

Anthony Trollope by Lock & Whitfield, published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington woodburytype, published 1878 4 3/8 in. x 3 1/2 in. (112 mm x 90 mm) image size. Photographs Collection. NPG Ax17549. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ © National Portrait Gallery, London. Link to original image