The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIII. The Victorian Age, Part One.

XIII. Lesser Novelists

§ 8. His Autobiography

Trollope’s writing is, above all things, easily readable; it is lucid, harmonious, admirable for purposes of even narrative and familiar dialogue; it has a pleasant satiric flavour, but makes no more claim to distinction in rhythm or diction than do his stories to depth or philosophy or intensity. He had command of humour and, much more, of pathos, which rings true even now because the occasions are unforced and the placid and sensible tenor of his narrative enables him to reach emotional climax without pitching the note too high. In An Autobiography, written 1875–6 and published 1883, he chose to emphasise the mechanical and commercial aspects of his art. Froude’s phrase—“Old Trollope … banging about the world”—has in it a touch of portraiture which corresponds with Trollope’s picture of himself. His philistinism was partly innate, partly the outcome of hostility towards affectation; there is legitimate satire in his ironical analogy between the minor novelist waiting for the moment of inspiration and the tallow-chandler waiting for the divine moment of melting. He did, however, make a fetish of mere voluminousness and he became a stand-by of magazines such as The Cornhill, Blackwood’s and The Fortnightly, whose editors valued punctuality in their contributors. He has so vividly described himself ticking off his two hundred and fifty words every fifteen minutes in the morning hours that posterity has been willing to accept his writing at the valuation he seems to put upon it; his fame has suffered in consequence.