The Year of the Trollope

by Catherine Pope on October 25, 2014

If you thought 2012 was exciting, hold on to your hat, as 2015 is the year of the Trollope. Yes, next spring marks Trollope’s bicentenary and the anticipation is palpable. Radio 4 has already started celebrating with dramatisations of some of his more popular novels, including The Eustace Diamonds. OUP republished handsome editions of the Palliser series a few years ago, and they’ve just obliged with the first two Barsetshire Chronicles: The Warden and Barchester Towers. Both feature exquisite Pugin covers, new introductions, and a helpful map of Barsetshire. The four remaining Chronicles will be published over the next couple of months.

New Trollope editions from OUP

OUP have also just published a particularly fine edition of Trollope’s An Autobiography and Other Writings. Edited by Professor Nicholas Shrimpton, Trollope’s Autobiography is the only substantial memoir by a major Victorian novelist. Here we learn of his legendary and controversial work habits. Was he a shining example of Victorian industriousness? Or did he sacrifice art in the interests of productivity? Whatever you think of his writing, he cannot be faulted on time management, having pinged out 47 novels while maintaining a day job with the post office. Not only do we get an insight into an author’s work habits, there are also candid assessments of his contemporaries, including Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Charlotte Brontë. The extensive explanatory notes in this edition help illuminate some of the less familiar characters, and enrich Trollope’s evocation of mid-Victorian literary society.

Soon I’ll be posting a full review of Autobiography, and hopefully finishing the posts from my Trollope Challenge. This year has been rather busy, what with finishing my PhD, running Victorian Secrets, researching Queen Victoria, writing books on digital skills, and teaching at two universities. Trollope would be proud. I just wish that I also had a housekeeper.


Out now: The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell's Fiction, a beautifully written study of this Victorian author's novels.

Introducing The Digital Researcher

by Catherine Pope on July 1, 2014

How to Manage References with ZoteroIn an interruption to the usual broadcast, I bring you news from the 21st century. When I’m not running Victorian Secrets, I spend quite a bit of time delivering digital skills workshops for researchers. I show them software that will make their lives easier, teach them how to create blogs, and explain the mysteries of Twitter.  So, in addition to being the Victorian Geek, I am now The Digital Researcher, and have a separate blog to share content specifically aimed at academics and writers. I’ve also written a couple of ebooks: Managing Your Research with Evernote and How to Manage References in Zotero. There are a few more in the popeline, too.

I hope to see some of you on the new blog. For those of you who (very sensibly) won’t have any truck with the modern age, fear not, I shall continue to write about the nineteenth century here.


Out now: The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell's Fiction, a beautifully written study of this Victorian author's novels.

George Eliot: The Last Victorian by Kathryn Hughes

June 5, 2014

Although George Eliot declared biography to be “a disease of English literature,” it hasn’t yet been eradicated, and there have been almost 20 attempts to tell the story of her life and career. The number of Victorian women writers who enjoyed both critical and commercial success can be counted on the fingers of one hand, […]

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The Victorian Guide to Sex by Fern Riddell

May 25, 2014

Although Queen Victoria was supposedly prudish, she popped out nine tiny Saxe-Coburgs and the population more than doubled during her reign. We might think of the Victorians as sexually repressed, but they were clearly at it like stoats. In The Victorian Guide to Sex, Fern Riddell synthesises a wealth of material from marriage guides, newspapers, and […]

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Sights and Frights – a one-day conference

May 23, 2014

If you fancy a magic lantern show, a presentation on the ectoplasm-producing medium, and a host of papers on Victorian spookiness, then book your place at Sights and Frights. It’s a one-day conference at the University of Sussex on 19th June 2014, organised by a group of nineteenth-century researchers (including me). We’re trying to create […]

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Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery and Arsenic by Kate Colquhoun

March 23, 2014

Anyone who saw the recent BBC documentary Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home knows that arsenic was everywhere in the late nineteenth century. It was used as a beauty product, as a medicine, and also to achieve a vibrant green colour in wallpaper. This ubiquity made it devilishly difficult to prove cases of deliberate poisoning and […]

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The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter by Lucinda Hawksley

March 16, 2014

If someone had thought to ask Queen Victoria what sort of daughter she didn’t want, she might have described Princess Louise: a smoker, a cyclist, and a strong-minded feminist who consorted with the likes of Josephine Butler and George Eliot. It is this tense mother-daughter relationship that dominates Lucinda Hawksley’s lively and enjoyable biography of an […]

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The Convert by Elizabeth Robins (1907)

March 2, 2014

Last year saw the 100th anniversary of the death of Emily Wilding Davison, the brave and determined suffragette who attempted to stop the King’s horse during the Epsom Derby. Many have decried the foolishness of such acts, believing that female suffrage would somehow have happened spontaneously, if only these silly women had been patient; others, […]

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Her Father’s Name by Florence Marryat

January 5, 2014

Now that I’ve finished writing my thesis on Florence Marryat (just a few tweaks and proofreading to go), I can take a more objective view of her fiction. Having read all 68 of her novels, it’s fair to say that they are not of equal merit; in fact, some are downright dreadful. With 7 children […]

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End of Year Book Meme 2013

January 1, 2014

It’s time for the end of year meme, in which I recount the year’s literary adventures, and wish you all a very happy 2014. How many books read in 2013? 106, mainly thanks to having (very uncharacteristically) taken a holiday in September. I also had to re-read quite a few books for my thesis, as […]

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