Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anthony Trollope's Mother

I have been writing steadily and happily on the first draft of my new chapter book this past week - I'm halfway through Chapter Five! My heart is full of overwhelming sadness, but writing sweet, dear, funny scenes about a third grader competing in a school-wide reading contest is providing me considerable cheer in this bleak midwinter.

In writing through my hard times, I'm inspired, as I am so often, by my constant re-reading of the autobiography of Anthony Trollope. In his chapter, "My Mother," he pays tribute to the woman who was herself a prodigiously prolific novelist although she began her career at the age of fifty. She wrote to support her family as she nursed a dying husband and dying adult children (a son and a daughter).

Trollope writes that even as hers were the hands that nursed these beloved invalids, "The novels went on, of course. We had already learned to know that they would be forthcoming at stated intervals - and they were always forthcoming." He goes on to say, "I have written many novels under many circumstances; but I doubt much whether I could write one when my whole heart was by the bedside of a dying son. " Frances Trollope spent the autumn of 1834 in a house in the outskirts of Bruges, left alone "to nurse these dying patients - the patients being her husband and children - and to write novels for the sustenance of the family!"

Trollope comments, "It was at this period of her career that her best novels were written."

Anthony Trollope has long been one of my heroes and literary role models, for writing his novels so faithfully while working full time for decades in a demanding position for the British postal service. These days his mother is, even more so, my heroine, too.


  1. Claudia, I love the way you express yourself - and enjoyed immensely every essay. I bet Anthony Trollope would feel like King for a Day if he knew you are inspired by his autobiography. He and his mother were a remarkable pair of writers. I wonder if any other of your blogger friends are charmed by him too. On a different line of thought - I hope your mother is progressing in her recovery.

  2. I love reading your blog … among many other reasons for all the wonderful book recommendations I get from you. I just finished Anne Tyler's Ladder of Years, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I will now put Trollope's Autobiography on my list. I love his novels but didn't know about this. What a wonderful tribute from Trollope to his mother, and what an inspiring thought, that she continued to write through the worst times in her life.