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A. Edward Newton Pamphlet: The Trollope Society

The American Trollope Society based in New York and the British one based in London were preceded by the Trollope Society of Philadelphia, which the noted bibliophile A. Edward Newton founded in 1929. During the depths of the Depression, Newton addressed the following message to the reading public:

I am about to do a thing which may be very foolish: I am going to start a Trollope Society. I realise fully — no one better — that this is a bad time to start anything: nevertheless I shall try… We live in a distracted world. No one country has a monopoly of trouble, there is enough to go round, but in this country our troubles are largely of our own making. We have a rather bad political system: candidates for office are selected with little or no thought as to their fitness and once elected “play politics” very largely to the neglect of their duties. Sometimes this is the case of our Chief Executive…

Why do we not retire our President at the end of a term of six years, with substantial pension, and make him ineligible for immediate re-election? Meantime, I have something to suggest which will take our minds off our troubles…. A source of reading, the cheapest and most delightful pastime there is. And, in order that we may forget, I suggest a course of reading of the good old Victorian novels of Anthony Trollope. Here and now I proclaim the fact that Anthony Trollope has written a greater number of first class novels than Dickens or Thackeray or George Eliot — I had almost said than these novelists combined — but I wish to be modest in my statements.

Newton published a short pamphlet which he distributed to friends and interested persons. “The purpose of this little pamphlet,” Newton wrote, “is to secure members who will sponsor the publication of a much-needed, complete, legible, inexpensive and uniform edition of the novels and tales of one of the greatest of the Victorians… Anthony Trollope.”

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