Thackeray forbade an autobiography, Trollope left us one — and a mystery. To be without it is unthinkable, for it sets out with such grace the facts we need to know: the misery of his schooldays at Harrow, a gentleman’s son, out-at-elbows and sneered at by boys no better born than he; the years of service in the Post Office, travelling all over Ireland and Southern England; the slow rise to fame and fortune as the creator of Barsetshire. All is meticulously set down: the word-counting and the stop-watch precision of his writing, hunts, visits, travels, whist at the club, and good health into the bargain. It is the archetypal Victorian success story; self-help and virtue rewarded by a happy home and a comfortable balance in the bank — a David Copperfield come to judgement.
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