Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Meeting Anthony Trollope

I am working my way through the fourth and final volume of the diary of George Templeton Strong, covering the years 1865-1875.  There are frequent references to what he is reading, and I was happy to come across praise of Anthony Trollope and Charlotte M. Yonge (I actually discovered Yonge through a reference in the third volume of the diaries).

In July of 1868, Strong accepted an invitation to join his brother-in-law on a two-months' tour of Britain and Europe.  They sailed out of New York on a Cunard steamer, and among the fifty passengers was Anthony Trollope!  I remember from Trollope's Autobiography that he visited America after the Civil War, to negotiate a postal treaty and to address copyright issues. Strong, who met him returning at the end of the visit, described him as a "dogmatic noisy John Bull whom I got to like afterwards," which seems to have been a pretty common reaction to him.  Trollope apparently could be a bit overwhelming, until people discovered his warm heart.

The ship landed in Liverpool, and Trollope travelled with Strong and his brother-in-law to London, and even recommended a restaurant there, the "Blue Posts."  At this time he was writing Phineas Finn, according to the Autobiography, one of my favorite of the Palliser novels.

I was delighted at this unexpected convergence - and almost envious of Strong.  It's not enough that he got to meet Abraham Lincoln several times, he also got to spend quality time with one of my favorite authors at the peak of his writing career.  Literary serendipity, and such fun to read about.

In London, Strong stayed at the Golden Cross Hotel at Charing Cross, "vide David Copperfield," but he was unimpressed with Dickens' American tour in 1867.  He was still holding a grudge for the "abuse and sarcasm" of the American Notes and Martin Chuzzlewit, and for Dickens' silence during the Civil War, when support for the Union "from the most popular living writer of prose fiction would have been so welcome, and though it would have come so fitly from a professional 'humanitarian.'"  Strong did admit, though, that he "should like to hear him read the Christmas Carol . . ."


  1. Charming story about Trollope. He must have had extraordinary energy and discipline to work as hard as he did and produce so much good fiction while carrying on his career at the post office.

  2. And writing while he was traveling, for both work and pleasure - he must have had real focus and concentration as well. I don't know if you've read about his system for writing, he discusses it in his autobiography - very organized & disciplined - and people mocked him for it, or considered it mercenary that he was treating in one way like a business.


Thank you for taking the time to read, and to comment. I always enjoy hearing different points of view about the books I am reading, even if we disagree!