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The Barchester Chronicles
Dramas based on the novels by Anthony Trollope

The Warden centers on Mr. Harding, a clergyman of great personal integrity who is nevertheless in possession of an income from a charity far in excess of the sum devoted to the purposes of the foundation. On discovering this, young John Bold turns his reforming zeal to exposing what he regards as an abuse of privilege, despite the fact that he is in love with Mr. Harding’s daughter Eleanor. It was a highly topical novel (a case regarding the misapplication of church funds was the scandalous subject of contemporary debate), but like other great Victorian novelists, Trollope uses the specific case to explore and illuminate the universal complexities of human motivation and social morality.

Barchester Towers is the second of the six Chronicles of Barsetshire, the work in which, after a ten years’ apprenticeship, Trollope finally found his distinctive voice. In this his most popular novel, the chronicler continues the story of Mr. Harding and his daughter Eleanor, begun in The Warden, adding to his cast of characters that oily symbol of ‘progress’ Mr. Slope, the hen-pecked Dr. Proudie, and the amiable and breezy Stanhope family. Love, mammon, clerical in-fighting and promotion again figure prominently and comically, all centred on the magnificently imagined cathedral city of Barchester. The central questions of this moral comedy - Who will be warden? Who will be dean? Who will marry Eleanor? - are skilfully handled with the subtlety of ironic observation that has won Trollope such a wide and appreciative readership.

Doctor Thorne is the third novel in the Barchester series. Doctor Thorne adopts his niece Mary, keeping secret her illegitimate birth as he introduces her to the best local social circles. There she meets and falls in love with Frank Gresham, heir to a vastly mortgaged estate; yet Frank is obliged to find a wealthy wife, jeopardizing Mary’s happiness until fate extends an obliging hand. Where fiery passion fails, understated English virtues of patience, persistence and good humor could yet prevail in this most appealing of Trollope’s comedies.

The fourth of the Barsetshire Chronicles, Framley Parsonage was published to wide acclaim and has always been one of Trollope’s most popular novels. In it the values of a Victorian clergyman Mark Robarts, are put to the test. Through a combination of naivety and social ambition, Robarts is compromised and brought to the brink of ruin. Trollope tells his story with great compassion, offsetting the drama with his customary humour. Like all the Barsetshire novels, it is an extraordinarily evocative picture of everyday life in nineteenth-century England.

The fifth novel of the Chronicles of Barsetshire series primarily relates the story of Lily Dale, a young woman living in the dower house of the Allington estate with her mother and sister Bell. Although Lily is secretly loved by a junior clerk in a tax office, John Eames, she becomes enamored with Adolphus Crosbie, an ambitious and egocentric man from a more urban environment. When Crosbie’s fickle behavior leaves Lily heartbroken, she must decide if she will accept the honest suit of Eames, or if she will opt for a protected, solitary life of spinsterhood. In addition to the struggle of Trollope’s most well-liked heroine, the author includes a host of other characters who enhance the narrative and its masterful portrayal of the inner lives and complexity of men and women.

Anthony Trollope was a masterful satirist with an unerring eye for the most intrinsic details of human behavior and an imaginative grasp of the preoccupations of nineteenth-century English novels. In The Last Chronicle of Barset, Mr. Crawley, curate of Hogglestock, falls deeply into debt, bringing suffering to himself and his family. To make matters worse, he is accused of theft, can’t remember where he got the counterfeit check he is alleged to have stolen, and must stand trial. Trollope’s powerful portrait of this complex man-gloomy, brooding, and proud, moving relentlessly from one humiliation to another-achieves tragic dimensions.

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