The Way We Live Now

by Anthony Trollope

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Places Discussed

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Melmotte house

Melmotte house. Ostentatious London home of Augustus Melmotte, the celebrated swindler whose dealings form the central plot of the book, and his family, in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square, a highly fashionable area east of Hyde Park and north of Piccadilly. Melmotte’s business offices, obscure and unobtrusive by contrast, are located on Abchurch Lane close to the Royal Exchange and Lombard Street in the business district of London. Melmotte also has business ties (necessarily vague and shady) with New York, Hamburg, Vienna, and Paris.

*Welbeck Street

*Welbeck Street. Less-than-fashionable London neighborhood, on the north side of Oxford Street, that is home to Lady Carbury, a hack writer who supports herself by persuading editors to publish favorable reviews of her execrably bad books. Her daughter Hetta and her wastrel son, Sir Felix, live with her, but the latter spends most of his time at his club, the Bear Garden.

Bear Garden Club

Bear Garden Club. Fashionable London club favored by Sir Felix Carbury that is the scene of much of the action of the novel, located off St. James Street, the traditional heart of London clubland.

*Longstaffe house

*Longstaffe house. Home of Adolphus (Dolly) Longstaffe’s family on London’s Bruton Street, a highly fashionable address from which to participate in the London social “season.” The London house is shut down for reasons of economy, and the family’s enforced rustication at its Suffolk seat at Caversham is a source of intense mortification for Georgiana Longstaffe, Dolly’s sister. Dolly’s own country seat, at Pickering Park in Sussex, is instrumental in the cause of Melmotte’s downfall.

*Sackville Street

*Sackville Street. London street north of Piccadilly that is described as the residence of Paul Montague, one of the book’s two heroes, although a flawed one. Montague later seems to be living on Suffolk Street, off Pall Mall.


*Islington. Unfashionable London working-class area that is the location of the temporary lodgings of Paul’s femme fatale, Mrs. Hurtle, whose exact address is not specified. Islington is also the scene of Sir Felix’s attempted assault on Ruby Ruggles, and the location of the music hall which they had previously frequented on the City Road.


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Barickman, Richard, Susan MacDonald, and Myra Stark. Corrupt Relations: Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, Collins and the Victorian Sexual System. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. Explores the extent to which Trollope’s fiction, like that of some of his contemporaries, moves beyond the sexual stereotypes of the time to recognize the damage these stereotypes did to the lives of women and men.

Gilmour, Robin. The Idea of the Gentleman in the Victorian Novel. Winchester, Mass.: Allen & Unwin, 1981. Sets Trollope’s gentlemanly ideal in its historical context.

Harvey, Geoffrey. The Art of Anthony Trollope. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1980. Thoughtful discussion of The Way We Live Now, praising Trollope’s combination of “an absolutist moral stance and a high degree of moral relativism.”

Levine, George. The Realistic Imagination: English Fiction from Frankenstein to Lady Chatterly. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. The best discussion of Trollope’s modes of representation, emphasizing the dependence of Trollope’s realism on “an almost cynical acceptance of the necessity for arbitrary and traditional rules.”

MacDonald, Susan Peck. Anthony Trollope. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Excellent introduction to the complexities of Trollope’s fiction; includes an annotated bibliography.

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Critical Essays