Anthony Trollope’s The Warden is the first of his well-loved Chronicles of Barsetshire, edited with an introduction and notes by Robin Gilmour in Penguin Classics.
The tranquil atmosphere of the cathedral town of Barchester is shattered when a scandal breaks concerning the financial affairs of a Church-run almshouse for elderly men. In the ensuing furore, Septimus Harding, the almshouse’s well-meaning warden, finds himself pitted against his daughter’s suitor Dr John Bold, a zealous local reformer. Matters are not improved when Harding’s abrasive son-in law, Archdeacon Grantly, leaps into the fray to defend him against a campaign Bold begins in the national press. An affectionate and wittily satirical view of the workings of the Church of England, The Warden is also a subtle exploration of the rights and wrongs of moral crusades and, in its account of Harding’s intensely felt personal drama, a moving depiction of the private impact of public affairs.
In his introduction, Robin Gilmour examines Trollope’s background and his influences, especially his use of contemporary newspaper scandals. This edition also includes suggestions for further reading and notes.
Anthony Trollope (1815-82) had an unhappy childhood characterised by a stark contrast between his family’s high social standing and their comparative poverty. He wrote his earliest novels while working as a Post Office inspector, but did not meet with success until the publication of the first of his ‘Barsetshire novels’, The Warden (1855). As well as writing over forty novels, including such popular works as Can You Forgive Her? (1865), Phineas Finn (1869), He Knew He Was Right (1869) and The Way We Live Now (1875) Trollope is credited with introducing the postbox to England.
If you enjoyed The Warden, you might like Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, also available in Penguin Classics.