An Autobiography, by Anthony Trollope, is at once egotistical and amusing. One of the most prolific novelists of the nineteenth century, Trollope tells how he rose from obscurity to become second only to Dickens and Thackeray in popularity, and he shares as interesting sidelights his opinions of his contemporaries and of the art of creative writing, opinions that are calculated to shock anyone who believes in “inspiration.” Trollope was a boisterous, outspoken man through whose eyes we can see a side of Victorianism that is often neglected—the rich humor of the satirist.
Trollope looked back on his childhood as a time of misery; his father was poor, and he was unable to defend himself in fist fights with the local boys. Also, his family was divided. His mother went to America, and he found himself pretty much on his own, with the responsibility of having to pay the bills of his father. From this miserable origin exaggerated in order to make An Autobiography more dramatic Trollope could move in only one way. He managed to obtain a job in the General Post Office in London, a civil service position that he always looked to with pride.
Never very studious, Trollope was the type of young man who worked so that he might play. He wanted to be a gentleman because gentlemen had more pleasures than other people enjoyed. Thus, his earliest days in the General Post Office were turbulent; he was continually making clumsy mistakes...
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