Friday, July 13, 2007

Trollope biog heavy reading in bed

According to our bathroom scales, the hardback of Trollope by Victoria Glendinning [Hutchinson 1992] weighs 2 lbs or 0.91 kilos, a heavy weight on the tum when reading in bed.

The biography runs to 510 pages, plus Introduction, Notes and Sources and Index. Why wasn't it cut, or published in two vols?

Trollope lived in some delightful houses – I wonder who occupies 5 Seaview Terrace, Donnybrook, near Dublin today? But, according to the photographs of him in the biography, at "just over forty" he looked an elderly man, bald and bushy-bearded.

There being no photographs of him in his youth, on the dust jacket of the book there is an artist's impression of how he might have looked, before growing his beard, by Tom Phillips R A.

My picture of Victoria Glendinning is borrowed from the site of her literary agent, David Higham, and was taken by Susan Greenhill who specialises in photographing writers. Her site has an interesting gallery of them, "taken from the thousands of freelance assignments she has undertaken for publishers, authors, newspapers and other clients since 1980."

About 50 pages into the biography I started to skim-read, a habit learned in my newspaper reporting days when I sometimes had to "gut" long documents for the few newsworthy lines.

Page 197 made my skimming eye slow down. "Anthony Trollope is commonly credited with the introduction into Britain of pillar boxes for posting letters. It would be more truthful to say that it was his persistence and enthusiasm that resulted in their adoption. Rowland Hill among others considered the idea.

When he was reviewing postal services in the Channel Islands, three months into his new job, Anthony wrote a long official report to his immediate superior in the Western District which included a recommendation to try out in St Helier, Jersey…Within a month he had the authority to go ahead, and immediately pressed for pillar boxes in St Peter Port in Guernsey as well. The pillar boxes were established in the Channel Islands the next year, and the year after that (1853) they began to appear in mainland Britain."

Trollope's mother, Frances, was a successful writer of more than 40 books. The Literary Encyclopaedia has an interesting piece about her, but they don't allow visitors to copy and paste extracts.


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