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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-16 18:25:05
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Rachel Ray, 1863 1645 0 0

In the writing of Barchester Towers I took great delight. The bishop and Mrs. Proudie were very real to me, as were also the troubles of the archdeacon and the loves of Mr. Slope. When it was done, Mr. W. Longman required that it should be subjected to his reader; and he returned the MS. to me, with a most laborious and voluminous criticism — coming from whom I never knew. This was accompanied by an offer to print the novel on the half-profit system, with a payment of £100 in advance out of my half-profits — on condition that I would comply with the suggestions made by his critic. One of these suggestions required that I should cut the novel down to two volumes. In my reply, I went through the criticisms, rejecting one and accepting another, almost alternately, but declaring at last that no consideration should induce me to cut out a third of my work. I am at a loss to know how such a task could have been performed. I could burn the MS., no doubt, and write another book on the same story; but how two words out of six are to be withdrawn from a written novel, I cannot conceive. I believe such tasks have been attempted — perhaps performed; but I refused to make even the attempt. Mr. Longman was too gracious to insist on his critic’s terms; and the book was published, certainly none the worse, and I do not think much the better, for the care that had been taken with it.

I knew, from the commencement of my candidature, how it would be. Of course that well-trained gentleman who condescended to act as my agent, had understood the case, and I ought to have taken his thoroughly kind advice. He had seen it all, and had told himself that it was wrong that one so innocent in such ways as I, so utterly unable to fight such a battle, should be carried down into Yorkshire merely to spend money and to be annoyed. He could not have said more than he did say, and I suffered for my obstinacy. Of course I was not elected. Sir Henry Edwards and his comrade became members for Beverley, and I was at the bottom of the poll. I paid £400 for my expenses, and then returned to London.

At this period I remember to have passed one set of holidays — the midsummer holidays — in my father’s chambers in Lincoln’s Inn. There was often a difficulty about the holidays — as to what should be done with me. On this occasion my amusement consisted in wandering about among those old deserted buildings, and in reading Shakespeare out of a bi-columned edition, which is still among my books. It was not that I had chosen Shakespeare, but that there was nothing else to read.

But for all that The Three Clerks was a good novel.

Doctor Thorne”—The Bertrams”—The West Indies” And The Spanish Main”

I do not think that we did make ourselves in any way peculiar — and yet there was a great struggle made. On the part of the proprietor, I may say that money was spent very freely. On my own part, I may declare that I omitted nothing which I thought might tend to success. I read all manuscripts sent to me, and endeavoured to judge impartially. I succeeded in obtaining the services of an excellent literary corps. During the three years and a half of my editorship I was assisted by Mr. Goschen, Captain Brackenbury, Edward Dicey, Percy Fitzgerald, H. A. Layard, Allingham, Leslie Stephen, Mrs. Lynn Linton, my brother, T. A. Trollope, and his wife, Charles Lever, E. Arnold, Austin Dobson, R. A. Proctor, Lady Pollock, G. H. Lewes, C. Mackay, Hardman (of the Times), George Macdonald, W. R. Greg, Mrs. Oliphant, Sir Charles Trevelyan, Leoni Levi, Dutton Cook — and others, whose names would make the list too long. It might have been thought that with such aid the St. Paul’s would have succeeded. I do not think that the failure — for it did fail — arose from bad editing. Perhaps too much editing might have been the fault. I was too anxious to be good, and did not enough think of what might be lucrative.

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET,


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