Mr Trollope leaves his visiting card!

An exciting new photograph, believed to have been created for use as a visiting card, has recently been discovered among the Trollope family papers in Australia and it provides some interesting pictorial information about the family. This will be of particular interest to all Trollope enthusiasts as the New Year ushers in the bicentenary of Anthony Trollope’s birth in 1815 and a full programme of commemorative events and activities will be taking place throughout both the UK and the rest of the World.

The basic facts about Anthony’s family life are well known. He married Rose Heseltine, the youngest daughter of Edward Heseltine, the manager of the Rotherham Office of the Sheffield and Rotherham Joint Stock Company, on 11th August 1844 and, throughout his life she was a great support and inspiration for him. To date only two photographs of Rose were known to exist and some have supposed that this might have been because her hair became prematurely white and that she might have wished to avoid the spotlight? Later research however has clearly demonstrated that her influence on his work was considerable and that on many occasions he used her as his amanuensis and supportive critic.

Anthony and Rose had two sons. The eldest, Henry Merivale Trollope was born in 1846 and his line sadly came to an end in 1953 with the death of his daughter Muriel Rose Trollope. The second son, Frederic James Anthony was born in 1847 and, in 1865, at the young age of 18, he decided that he would like to emigrate to Australia to hopefully become a sheep farmer. In Anthony’s autobiography, he writes of the family’s sadness at this decision.

This departure was a great pang to his mother and me; but it was permitted on the understanding that he was to come back when he was twenty-one, and then decide whether he would remain in England or return to the Colonies. In the winter of 1868 he did come to England and had a season’s hunting in the old country; but there was no doubt in his own mind as to his settling in Australia. His purpose was fixed.

Frederic, or Fred as he was generally known, reached Melbourne again in July 1869 after a sea voyage on the Norfolk that had taken nearly three months. Anthony later visited him there on two occasions and supported him in his ambitions. Ultimately the only direct surviving line of the family is still in Australia and the Trollope baronetcy (Anthony was the great grandson of the 4th baronet of Casewick Hall in Lincolnshire) is also now with that branch of the family.

The new photograph which is in the form of a ‘carte de visite’, popular at the time, appears to have been taken during this final visit by Fred to his family in England and provides a unique record of the complete family at that time. The faces of the four family members, soon to be separated forever, are arranged in a diamond pattern. Anthony is easily recognised from his many other photographs. The photograph of Rose becomes only the third photograph of her known to exist, while the images of the two sons, both in their early twenties, are unique. Henry appears above Fred.

Michael Williamson, current Chairman of the Trollope Society was very enthusiastic about the new discovery and the generosity of the Trollope family in sharing it at this especial moment. He commented,

To discover any new photograph of the immediate Trollope family at any time would have been exciting but to have it coincide with the beginning of this special bicentenary year is particularly gratifying. We know that this was a very difficult and emotional time for Anthony and Rose. Before the days of air travel and easier communications this would have been a very significant parting for everybody concerned and it is rather nice that they should have commemorated it in this way and that the image still survives.

Among other uses, the image will be featured on the new commemorative stamp issue which will become available from the Post Office in April.

Notes to Editors

  • Anthony Trollope’s son, Fred moved to Australia in 1896
  • The ‘carte de visite’ appears to have been taken In England at the time of Fred’s visit to his parents
  • The photograph of Anthony Trollope’s wife, Rose, is only the third in existence.


Dominic Edwardes