The Political Novels: Which, Who, and What

  • John Halperin


It has been usual for some years now to group together Can You Forgive Her? (1864–5), Phineas Finn (1867–9), The Eustace Diamonds (1871–3), Phineas Redux (1873), The Prime Minister (1875–6), and The Duke’s Children (1879–80) under the heading of the Political or Parliamentary Novels — or, more recently, the Palliser Novels. And yet Trollope never made this grouping himself. Indeed, the promotion of the six into a separate category occurred long after his death. In Anthony Trollope: A Commentary (1927), Michael Sadleir listed the six together as the Political Novels. Although the division of the novels was largely his own, it derived in part from a compilation by Spencer Nichols in The Significance of Anthony Trollope (1925). Nichols, in turn, had accepted the classification made by Speare, who discussed the six novels together in his book on The Political Novel (1924). Speare, however, refused to accept Can You Forgive Her? as a genuine part of the series.1 He referred his reading T. H. S. Escott, who dealt with the novels together as political in tone and focus but never actually gave them any subsuming collective name. Nevertheless Dodd, Mead & Company reissued the six novels in various editions between 1893 and 1928 with the words “The Parliamentary Novels” on the spine. More recently, in an Introduction to Can You Forgive Her? Sadleir proposed that “Palliser Novels” would be a more appropriate term than any of the others; the term gained acceptance, so that when in 1950 the Oxford University Press began publishing its “Illustrated Trollope” edition it substituted the term “Palliser Novels” for the more usual “Parliamentary Novels.” The six have recently (1973) been reissued in paperback by Oxford once again as “The Palliser Novels.”


Prime Minister Minor Character Political Character Political Propaganda Professional Politician 
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Copyright information

© John Halperin 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Halperin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaUSA

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