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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Trollope, Anthony (1815–1882)

by R. B. Joyce

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), by unknown photographer

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), by unknown photographer

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24722350

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), novelist and civil servant, was born on 24 April 1815 at Russell Square, London, son of Thomas Anthony Trollope, lawyer, and his wife Frances, née Milton, novelist. Educated at Winchester College and Harrow School, he became a clerk in the Post Office in 1834 and was transferred to Ireland as post-office surveyor in 1841. On 11 June 1844 at Rotherham, Yorkshire, he married Rose Heseltine. In 1843 he began writing novels to supplement his income; he retired from the Post Office in 1868.

On 24 May 1871 the Trollopes left Liverpool in the Great Britain to visit their son Frederick who had settled on a sheep station, Mortray, near Grenfell, New South Wales. Interested in the problems facing the British empire, Trollope had a contract with his publishers for a book on the Australian colonies. On the two-month voyage he wrote the novel Lady Anna (London, 1874) which was serialized in the Australasian from May 1873. A welcome celebrity, he arrived in Melbourne on 27 July 1871 and embarked on a year's intensive travelling. In August he went to Queensland and in October visited Gulgong and Bathurst in New South Wales. In Sydney he attended parliament and on 7 December, in evidence to the Legislative Assembly select committee on the civil service, he opposed the patronage system and urged entry to the service by examination. In Melbourne he lectured to an admiring audience of 3000 on 'English Prose Fiction as a Rational Amusement'.

Meanwhile, in snatches between numerous public engagements and effusive hospitality and 'on the road', he began writing. On 23 December his comments on the colonies began in a series of letters published in the London Daily Telegraph, under the thinly disguised pseudonym 'Antipodean'. In Tasmania in January 1872 he commented on the amenities for convicts at Port Arthur for the government. He visited Gippsland, Victoria, in February, then Western Australia and South Australia in April-May. He sent one of his hostesses, Mrs E. Landor of Perth, a specially bound and inscribed copy of The Claverings (London, 1867). In July he left in the Macedon for two months in New Zealand.

When he reached London Trollope was able to give Chapman and Hall 1100 hand-written sheets, and his Australia and New Zealand appeared in 1873; George Robertson brought out an Australian edition; the book was also published in separate sections. Serialized in the Australasian it received a mixed reception. Trollope himself believed it 'must be inaccurate … as the rapid work of a traveller'. W. B. Dalley admiringly reviewed the second division on New South Wales in the Sydney Morning Herald on 31 March 1873: 'he sees among us nothing but beauty everywhere'. Dalley was 'startled' that 'the delicate delineator of sweet female character, who could follow even the musings of a young girl … was passionately fond of all sport, fishing, hunting, clambering over rocks only to see the fish-spearing of our aboriginals (as the writer of this notice saw him last year)'.

Trollope revisited Australia in 1875 and wrote twenty letters for the Liverpool Mercury, which were republished in B. A. Booth's The Tireless Traveller (Berkeley, 1941). He directly used his Australian experiences in two novels: Harry Heathcote of Gangoil (1874) and John Caldigate (London, 1879), a better literary work which contains a deeper analysis of the moral values of colonial life than in his travel book. He died of a paralytic stroke on 6 December 1882 in London and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery, survived by his wife and two sons. His Autobiography was published in 1883.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Muir, Anthony Trollope in Australia (Adel, 1949)
  • B. A. Booth (ed), The Letters of Anthony Trollope (Lond, 1951)
  • A. Trollope, Australia, P. D. Edwards and R. B. Joyce eds (Brisb, 1968)
  • A. Trollope, South Africa, J. H. Davidson ed (Cape Town, 1973)
  • A. Trollope, Australia and New Zealand (manuscript, National Library of Australia).

Citation details

R. B. Joyce, 'Trollope, Anthony (1815–1882)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 22 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), by unknown photographer

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), by unknown photographer

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24722350

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Antipodean

24 April 1815
London, Middlesex, England


6 December 1882
London, Middlesex, England

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage