In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Frances Trollope

  • Introduction
  • Biographies
  • Frances Wright
  • Bibliographies
  • Reference Works
  • Editions
  • Publication History
  • Essay Collections
  • Continental Europe
  • Social Fiction
  • Strong-Women and Marriage Novels
  • Crime Novels

Victorian Literature Frances Trollope
Elsie B. Michie
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 April 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199799558-0073


Readers typically know Frances Milton Trollope (b. 1779–d. 1863) for her best-selling first book, the scathingly satirical commentary on her travels in America, Domestic Manners of the Americans (Neville-Sington 1997, cited under Editions), or as the mother of the later Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (b. 1815–d. 1882). These things often cause readers to overlook the fact that Frances Trollope, generally referred to as Fanny, had a prolific and extremely successful writing career that ran from 1832 to 1860. She published thirty-four novels, six travel books, and an essay in verse; her life spanned the period of Jane Austen (b. 1775–d. 1817) and of Charles Dickens (b. 1812–d. 1870), who became Trollope’s rival in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Her novels reflect this amalgam of influences, because many of them echo Austen’s regency romances, while others engage in the social protest associated with Dickens. A global literary figure, Trollope wrote about and had an impact on American culture and was also engaged in European literary circles. The daughter of a clergyman who was an inventor, Trollope also experimented in her own way, writing in a diverse array of novelistic genres. Her fiction includes novels set both in America and Europe that deal fictionally with the issues raised in her travel writing; social-problem novels attacking the abuses of slavery in America, the factory system, and the new Poor Law; religious novels that contain anti-Catholic and anti-Evangelical strains; strong women and marriage novels; a pair of novels about the publishing industry; and an early crime novel. Though she was consistently critiqued during her life, she was also widely read. Authors as varied as Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë (b. 1816–d. 1855), William Thackeray (b. 1811–d. 1863), George Eliot (b. 1819–d. 1880), and Anthony Trollope were influenced by her work. Frances Trollope is a writer important in her own right, who also had a significant impact on the Victorian canon.


The sons of Frances Trollope provide the first glimpses into her life in Trollope 2004 and Trollope 2009. Because Thomas Adolphus Trollope (b. 1810–d. 1892) lived with his mother, his memoir, Trollope 2004, includes a more extensive account than that of his brother Anthony Trollope Trollope 2009. Thomas Adolphus’s second wife, Frances Eleanor Trollope (b. 1835–d. 1913), produced the first full-length biography of her famous mother-in-law, in Trollope 1975. In the 20th century, interest in Frances Trollope began to revive after Michael Sadleir researched her life as background for his study of Anthony Trollope (Sadleir 1975). Bigland 1953, followed with a biography aimed at general audiences. Heineman 1979 is the first full academic biography of Frances Trollope. The author’s groundbreaking research was followed by two highly readable biographies directed at general as well as academic audiences: Ransom 1996 and Neville-Sington 1998.

  • Bigland, Eileen. The Indomitable Mrs Trollope. London: James Barrie, 1953.

    Tells the story of Trollope’s life dramatically and in a manner that is accessible to all readers. Focuses particularly on Frances’s early life, travels in America, and relation to Anthony. Emphasizes family occurrences.

  • Heineman, Helen. Mrs. Trollope: The Triumphant Feminine in the Nineteenth Century. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1979.

    Includes extracts from Frances Trollope’s extant correspondence with friends, discusses her novels, and provides numerous quotations from then contemporary critical reviews, which are key to understanding the ambivalence with which Trollope’s works were received in the period. Heineman’s archival work revitalized modern scholarship on Frances Trollope.

  • Neville-Sington, Pamela. Fanny Trollope: The Life and Adventures of a Clever Woman. London: Penguin, 1998.

    Integrates Trollope as a writer with Trollope as an extraordinary woman, by organizing her life around the titles of her novels. Situates Trollope in literary history, noting her similarities to Austen and her influence on her son Anthony Trollope. Includes brief readings of the novels as well as descriptions of events from Trollope’s life.

  • Ransom, Teresa. Fanny Trollope: A Remarkable Life. Stroud, UK: Alan Sutton, 1996.

    Emphasizes that the novelist encountered a series of setbacks, including bankruptcy and the deaths of her children, with relentless courage that led her to take chances that paid off. Suggests that in her fiction as well as her life, Trollope flaunted social convention.

  • Sadleir, Michael. Trollope: A Commentary. New York: Octagon, 1975.

    Describes Frances’s life as a prelude to discussing her son Anthony’s career. An early reading of her writing that focuses on her depictions of America and her social-problem novels. Provides a bibliography of her works. Originally published in 1947.

  • Trollope, Anthony. An Autobiography. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing Classics, 2009.

    Presents a thumbnail sketch of Frances Trollope as a jovial woman who gave little thought to her politics and wrote primarily for money. It has been argued that this portrait shut down interest in her work. Originally published in 1883.

  • Trollope, Frances Eleanor. Frances Trollope: Her Life and Literary Work from George III to Victoria. 2 vols. New York: AMS, 1975.

    Includes both family correspondence of and anecdotes about Frances Trollope. Provides invaluable information about the people the author knew and her private comments about both her work and public life. Originally published in 1895.

  • Trollope, Thomas Adolphus. What I Remember. Chestnut Hill, MA: Elibron Classics, 2004.

    Provides information about how Frances Trollope researched her novels and travel writings, including a section on her trip to the north of England to gather material for her anti-child-labor novel The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong, the Factory Boy. Originally published in 1888.

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