City Journal: “Reading Trollope” by Melanie Kirkpatrick
Melanie Kirkpatrick, former deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page (and a member of The Trollope Society) has penned an appreciation of Anthony Trollope for the City Journal.
“I had received two degrees in English literature, written a thesis on Dickens, and studied almost every major work of Victorian literature before I thought to read a book by Anthony Trollope. My interest in the great nineteenth-century British novelist was sparked, not by a classroom discussion, but in a casual conversation over cocktails in Hong Kong. It was the early 1980s and Hong Kong was still a British colony. An American banker, visiting from what was then known as Peking, told me about a Trollope craze that had overtaken the American community there. Paperback editions of Trollope’s novels were being passed from reader to reader….
“Not long after our drink, I picked up a copy of The Warden, the first in Trollope’s series of novels set in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester. After speeding through the Barchester novels, I moved on to the Palliser series, Trollope’s six parliamentary novels. I was enthralled. Trollope’s narrative power, along with his astute psychological insights, drew me in to the fictional worlds he created. I came to agree with Virginia Woolf, who said that we believe in the reality of Trollope’s characters ‘as we do in the reality of our weekly bills.'”