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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr David Craig

David Craig (2010). Advanced conservative liberalism: party and principle in Trollope's parliamentary novels. Victorian Literature and Culture 38(2): 355-371.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

When, on 17 November 1868, Anthony Trollope came bottom of the poll at Beverley in Yorkshire, his cherished ambition to become a Liberal MP was at an end. He had advocated the key elements of the liberal program – Irish Church disestablishment and national education – but this mattered little in a notoriously corrupt borough which was shortly to be stripped of its representation (Tingay). He later explained in his Autobiography (1883) that since he was deprived of a parliamentary seat, he instead used characters in his fiction “for the expression of my political or social convictions . . . they have served me as safety-valves by which to deliver my soul” (112–13). This reflection starkly conveys the sense of a man literally bursting with opinions, but it sits oddly with the common view of critics that Trollope's parliamentary novels depicted political life primarily in social terms; that unlike Disraeli he was not especially interested in exploring issues and testing convictions; and that he had “very few political ideas” (Brantlinger 209).