Anthony Trollope and Barchester Towers

A video talk

“Trollope kills me. Kills me with his excellence,” said Leo Tolstoy.

I am just one of thousands of people who have adored the novels of Anthony Trollope. His writing has enriched my life.

Just $15.00

This video is about 60 minutes full of intriguing information.

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The birth of Barchester

Anthony Trollope worked for the Post Office, and we can thank him for the introduction of the pillar post box into Britain. But we can also thank him for authorial perseverance. He published three novels which failed to bring him either money or fame. Then, one evening, he was visiting the lovely cathedral city of Salisbury and, looking at the cathedral, he was hit with an idea. Why not write a novel about clergymen, showing them not as professional men of the cloth but as ordinary men who fall in love, get into debt, lust after power, and jostle for position? He went away and began The Warden which was soon followed by Barchester Towers.

These two books form the start of his great Barsetshire series, six novels which firmly place the fictional county of Barsetshire on the map of England.

“I never travel without a Trollope novel.”
― Sir Alec Guinness

A loud, untidy and yet wonderfully humane man

Trollope’s life was not always an easy one. In many ways, his childhood trauma was worse than that suffered by his great contemporary, Charles Dickens. As a schoolboy he was so miserable that he contemplated suicide. His mother became a best-selling writer – discover how her books influenced her son’s. He rose high in the Post Office, adored hunting, was a great club man, and he loved his food. Get to know this loud, untidy and yet wonderfully humane man in this virtual talk.

Henry James once commented that Trollope’s “great, his inestimable merit was a complete appreciation of the usual”. Through details of food, houses and dress, Trollope reveals his characters to us as they go about their daily lives – he does so with perception, a vast understanding of human weaknesses and motivations, and with sympathy. I would love to persuade you to share my deep love of an author whose works have given me untold pleasure. Just $15, purchase access here.

Some were disgusted

Barchester Towers has always been the best-known of Trollope’s books. And yet it disgusted some early readers – why? Trollope was ordered to remove his reference to Mr Slope’s bad breath as this was seen as simply too vulgar. It’s a very funny novel, as Eleanor and the Signora contend with too many suitors, Mrs Proudie struggles for dominance against all who come near her, and the men of God are revealed to have all too human failings.

But did you know that Trollope also wrote a political series, the brilliant six novel set known as ‘The Pallisers’? Trollope never took a holiday from writing, even when he travelled, and in his lifetime he produced 47 novels, a play, volumes of short stories, and some biographies and travel books.

Come and explore the irony and the comedy of this classic novel and learn more about its themes, setting and characters. Just $15, purchase access here.

Purchase the complete Video Talk (just $15 AU)

This Virtual Talk is a real video treat! In it, I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. This talk is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen.

Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately. Just $15, purchase access here.

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Discuss it with me

Did you, like millions of others, watch The Barchester Chronicles on TV in the 1980s? Did seeing the series make you want to read the novels? Barchester Towers is today a classic novel, but the publisher originally turned it down – why? From such a rich cast of characters, it’s hard to select a favourite, but I think mine has to be that kindly and rather naïve middle-aged man, Mr Harding. Which character would you choose?

I’d love to hear what you think of this novel and whether you too have found Trollope to be an addiction. Let’s discuss it here.

Discuss it with me

I’d love to hear what you think of this novel and whether you too have found Trollope to be an addiction. Let’s discuss it here.

Leave a comment.

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I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Featured image credit- Janet Maw & Donald Pleasence, The Barchester Chronicles (1982),

Comments (4)

  1. Linda Fineman

    Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope are my two favorite writers, but I’ve never been adequately able to articulate the reasons why. Susannah does that brilliantly in this video talk! It was fascinating to learn facts like Trollope was the first British novelist to introduce recurring characters. As a fan of book series, that made me love him even more. And this video talk has possibly the best line ever spoken about my beloved author: “Trollope frequently looked like he’d been dragged through a bush backwards.” LOL!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks for the fabulous ‘review’ of my talk, Linda. I am delighted you share my love of Trollope and that you learned some new things.
      I believe his wife frequently tried to tidy him up, but it was a losing battle.

  2. Beatrice

    Yes I loved the BBC series and have read Barchester Towers several times. Trollope has such a sense of humour. I consider it to be Donald Pleasance’s finest performance.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Wasn’t he utterly wonderful as Mr Harding. I especially loved the moments when he played his imaginary violin cello!

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