At the age of 19 it was now vital for Anthony to find work. He was found, through a connection of his mother’s, a position as a civil servant in the Post Office. The position was suitable for a gentleman, but not well paid. Trollope was asked to copy out a piece from The Times, and made a mess of it. He begged a second chance and was given it, thereby beginning his career in the Post Office.
On 4 November 1834 Trollope became a junior clerk at St Martin’s-le-Grand. He was, to begin with, something of a failure. He rowed with his boss, Colonel Maberley, who in the future would do everything he could to thwart Trollope’s career. In his autobiography Trollope recalls that ‘I was always in trouble.’ He was unpunctual, careless and much like any other young man.
Trollope lived in boarding houses on his salary of £90 a year, rising to £110. His difficulty was how to live on his inadequate salary. He had no friends and was always in debt. He had to find his dinner every night, and restaurants were non-existent. He took to late nights, cheap drink, and the normal activities of youth in London. He remained socially awkward and was later to call this time his ‘hobbledehoyhood’ and write of his character Johnny Eames as a hobbledehoy, and a junior clerk in the income tax office.
Not only unpunctual at work, because he had no money Anthony was unpunctual in paying his bills. Unable to pay a £12 tailor’s bill, it fell in to the hands of a money lender. Trollope borrowed £4 more, and because of the high interest charged by the moneylender, eventually owed £200. He formed a ‘most intimate acquaintance’ with the the man, who even turned up at the Post Office looking for his money, whispering ‘Now I wish you would be punctual. If you would only be punctual, I should like you to have anything you want.’ Trollope later based the characters of Clarkson and Mr M’Ruen on his own experience with moneylender, exhorting him to be punctual.