What’s so great about Trollope?

Filed under: Fiction

Joanna Trollope, Kwasi Kwarteng, Michael Symmons Roberts and Jonathan Keates discuss their favourite novels by Anthony Trollope.


Should we take Anthony Trollope seriously? Are Barchester Towers, Phineas Finn and The Way We Live Now comfort reading for addicts of the heritage industry and TV costume drama, or is Trollope up there with Dickens, Hardy and the Brontës: exponents of the Victorian novel at its most incisively original?

Was Trollope the victim of his own indefatigable industry and dedication to his craft? And what does he have to say to 21st-century readers? In an event marking the bicentenary of his birth, and chaired by the biographer and novelist Jonathan Keates, MP and historian Kwasi Kwarteng, poet Michael Symmons Roberts and novelist Joanna Trollope examine his reputation, his surprising narrative range and his often audacious and strikingly humane treatment of controversial themes and characters. Choosing their own favourites from the Trollopean canon, the panel considers whether Leo Tolstoy was right when he exclaimed, ‘Trollope kills me, kills me with his genius.’

Recorded on: October 7, 2015
Recorded at: The Courtauld Institute of Art