Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trollope, Thomas Adolphus
TROLLOPE, THOMAS ADOLPHUS (1810–1892), author, born at 16 Keppel Street, Bloomsbury, on 29 April 1810 (baptised at St. George's, Bloomsbury, on 19 Dec.), was the eldest son of Thomas Anthony Trollope, by his wife Frances Trollope [q. v.]
He was sent at first as a day boy to Harrow school, but in 1820 he was elected scholar at Winchester, where he had as fag his brother Anthony in 1826. He left Winchester in July 1828, having just failed to secure his election at New College. Before this date he had commenced author as a contributor to the ‘Hampshire and West of England Magazine.’ In September 1828 he sailed with his father in the Corinthian, Captain Chadwick, for New York, and it was not until his return next year, after some rough experiences, that he entered at St. Alban Hall, matriculating on 16 Oct. 1829. His father had selected St. Alban Hall so that he might be under Whately. He graduated B.A. from Magdalen Hall in 1835, and three years later obtained a mastership at King Edward's school, Birmingham. He left Birmingham in 1839, and travelled with his mother, under whose auspices he determined to embark upon the literary profession. He soon obtained work upon newspapers and magazines, and his first book, a modest narrative of a trip in Brittany, appeared under his mother's editorship in 1840. Two years later he made the acquaintance of Charles Dickens, and became an early contributor to ‘Household Words.’ In 1843 he settled with his mother at Florence, and thenceforth selecting Tuscan subjects as his speciality, he rapidly became one of the most fluent writers of his day. He sympathised warmly with the leaders of the Italian revolutionary movement, and rendered no little assistance to their cause by enabling them to keep in touch with their friends in England. In the spring of 1848 he married Theodosia [see Trollope, Theodosia], the daughter of Joseph Garrow. His wife brought him an addition to the income he derived from his pen, and he now bought and partly rebuilt a house on the Piazza Maria Antonia at Florence. Known thenceforth as the Villino Trollope, this house (the hospitable mistress of which was celebrated in Landor's lines ‘To Theodosia’) became the meeting-place of many English and foreign authors in Italy. The Brownings and Dickens were warm friends of the Trollopes, and to these were added G. H. Lewes and George Eliot, Owen Meredith, Villari, Lowell, Colonel Peard (‘Garibaldi's Englishman’), and others. In 1850 Trollope furnished his mother with the plot of her novel, ‘Petticoat Government,’ and eight years later he devised for his brother Anthony the plot of one of his most successful ventures, ‘Doctor Thorne.’
Trollope's literary work in connection with his adopted country was signalised in 1862, when King Victor Emmanuel bestowed upon him the order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus. On his first wife's death, on 13 April 1865, Trollope moved outside the walls of the city of Florence to the Villa Ricorboli, and on 29 Oct. 1866 he married, as his second wife, Frances Eleanor, daughter of Thomas L. Ternan, who undertook the care of his delicate young daughter ‘Bice’ (Beatrice). For a short period about this time he acted as ‘Daily News’ correspondent in Italy, and some years later, in 1873, he finally left Florence to act as correspondent of the ‘Standard’ at Rome, where his house in the Via Nazionale speedily became a resort no less favoured by English travellers than the Villino Trollope had been. Until the middle of 1886 he continued there his methodical habits of literary work, writing every day from eight until two, standing at a high desk near the window, and after lunch smoking a cigar among his friends to the strange accompaniment of a glass of milk. Though he travelled widely in Western Europe, he did not reside in England between 1843 and 1886. While at home on one occasion he visited George Henry Lewes and ‘George Eliot,’ and also Tennyson at Freshwater. In 1890 he left Rome and settled at Budleigh Salterton in Devonshire. He died at Clifton on 11 Nov. 1892, aged 82. His daughter Beatrice, who married on 16 Aug. 1880 the Right Hon. Charles Stuart-Wortley, died on 26 July 1881, leaving a daughter.
Except in his novels, some of which were written with extravagant rapidity, Trollope hardly wrote a dull page; yet so great is his diffuseness that nothing short of a miracle could save much that he wrote from a speedy oblivion. Between 1840 and 1890 his output is represented by some sixty volumes. The amount is trifling beside the records achieved by his brother Anthony and his mother Frances Trollope; but it is probable, having regard to the prodigious amount of his periodical and journalistic work, that he emitted more printed matter than any of his family. Trollope in a score of volumes popularised gossip about Italy, upon almost exactly the same lines as those adopted by successors such as Symonds and Mrs. Oliphant. Much of his best work has been eclipsed with greater rapidity than it deserved.
His works comprise
- ‘A Summer in Brittany,’ London, 1840, 2 vols. 8vo, and 1848; a pleasant record of a summer excursion edited by the author's mother, Frances Trollope.
- ‘A Summer in Western France,’ 1841, 2 vols. 8vo, under the same editorship.
- ‘Impressions of a Wanderer in Italy, Switzerland, France, and Spain,’ 1850, 8vo.
- ‘The Girlhood of Catherine de' Medici,’ 1856, 8vo; this, a work of considerable research, was translated into German in 1864.
- ‘A Decade of Italian Women,’ 1859, 2 vols. 8vo. One of the lives, that of Vittoria Colonna (the widow of the imperialist General Pescara), was published separately at New York in 1859.
- ‘Tuscany in 1849 and 1859,’ London, 1859, 8vo; a work showing the author's intimate acquaintance with the contemporary provincial politics of Italy.
- ‘Filippo Strozzi: a History of the last Days of the Old Italian Liberty,’ 1860, 8vo. In spite of its many historical defects as a pioneer work, this book had a distinct value, and aroused a widespread interest in its subject. It is especially noteworthy that George Eliot was a guest at the Trollopes' in Florence during 1860, and that she set to work upon ‘Romola’ in October 1861.
- ‘Paul V the Pope and Paul the Friar: a Story of an Interdict,’ 1860, 8vo; dealing with the episode of Paul V and Sarpi in a manner which was commended by the ‘Athenæum.’
- ‘La Beata: a Novel,’ 1861, 2 vols. 8vo; 2nd ed. 1861; 3rd ed. 1862 (with new sub-title, ‘A Tuscan Romeo and Juliet’), and 1865.
- ‘Marietta: a Novel,’ 1862, 8vo, 1866 and 1868; pronounced by the ‘Times’ to be worthy of its author's name, in allusion apparently to the fame of the writer's brother Anthony, which reached its zenith in this year.
- ‘A Lenten Journey in Umbria and the Marches of Ancona,’ 1862, 8vo.
- ‘Giulio Malatesta: a Novel,’ 1863, 8vo, and 1866.
- ‘Beppo the Conscript,’ 1864, 8vo, 1868 and 1869.
- ‘Lindisfarn Chase,’ 1864, 8vo; 3rd ed. 1866.
- ‘A History of the Commonwealth of Florence from the earliest Independence of the Commune to the Fall of the Republic in 1531,’ London, 1865, 4 vols. 8vo; as a popular introduction to the subject this work was of some value.
- ‘Gemma: a Novel,’ 1866 and 1868, 8vo.
- ‘Artingale Castle,’ 1867, 3 vols. 8vo.
- ‘Dream Numbers,’ 1868, 8vo, and 1869, 12mo.
- ‘Leonora Casaloni: or the Marriage-Secret,’ 1869, 2 vols. 8vo, and 1869, 12mo.
- ‘The Garstangs of Garstang Grange,’ 1869, 3 vols. 8vo.
- ‘A Siren,’ 1870, 3 vols. 8vo.
- ‘Durnton Abbey: a Novel,’ 1871, 3 vols. 8vo.
- ‘The Stilwinches of Combe Mavis: a Novel,’ 1872, 3 vols. 8vo.
- ‘Diamond cut Diamond,’ 1875, 2 vols. 8vo.
- ‘The Papal Conclaves, as they were and as they are,’ 1876, 8vo. W. C. Cartwright had in 1868 collected a vast mass of material in his laborious ‘Papal Conclaves.’ Trollope's work made some substantial additions to, and able comments upon, the work of his predecessor; but it is marred by the isolation given to episodes which cannot be regarded justly apart from the historical context. It is largely superseded now by the works of Berthelet, Lucius Lector, and Canon Pennington (cf. Quarterly Review, October 1896).
- ‘A Peep behind the Scenes at Rome,’ 1877, 8vo. This was translated into Italian by F. Bernardi in 1884.
- ‘The Story of the Life of Pius the Ninth,’ 1877, 2 vols. 8vo; a curious jumble of facts, opinions, amusing stories, and prejudices, published a year before the death of Pio Nono, on 8 Feb. 1878.
- ‘A Family Party in the Piazza of St. Peter, and other Stories,’ 1877, 3 vols. 8vo. An unequal series of papers and stories, in some of which local colour is skilfully manipulated.
- ‘Sketches from French History,’ 1878, 8vo.
- ‘What I remember,’ 1887, 2 vols. 8vo; a third volume appeared in 1889 as ‘The Further Reminiscences of Mr. T. A. Trollope.’ Each of the three volumes is separately indexed.
[Burke's Peerage, s. v. ‘Kesteven;’ Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, p. 304; Trollope's What I remember 1887; Anthony Trollope's Autobiography, 1883; Mrs. Trollope's Frances Trollope, 1895; Times, 15 Nov. 1892; Athenæum, 19 Nov. 1892; Trollope's Works in Brit. Mus. Library.]