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THE LOST CHRONICLE OF OMNIUM
The Rediscovery of The Duke’s Children
It is remarkable that one of the best-known novels by one of the greatest 19th-century English novelists has never been published in the form its author intended. Anthony Trollope wrote The Duke’s Children as a four-volume work but then reduced it to three, necessitating the loss of almost a quarter of his original text. The precise reason is lost to posterity but is likely to have been a demand from his publishers on the grounds of economy; it would not have come from Trollope himself, who had earlier written in his Autobiography: ‘I am at a loss to know how such a task could be performed. I could burn the MS., no doubt, and write another book on the same story; but how two words out of every six are to be withdrawn from a written novel, I cannot conceive.’
Yet this is precisely what he was obliged to do, and 65,000 words ended up on the cutting-room floor. As he wrote to John Blackwood not long after making the revisions: ‘I am bound to say that I have never found myself able to effect changes in the plot of a story. Small as the links are, one little thing hangs on another to such an extent that any change sets the whole narrative wrong. There are so many infinitesimal allusions to what is past, that the whole should be rewritten or it will be faulty.’ It was meticulous, exacting and soul-destroying work.
The original manuscript of The Duke’s Children has lain neglected in the Beinecke Library of Yale University for many years. However, over the last decade several researchers, led by Professor Steven Amarnick, have been patiently working to restore the novel to its original, fully extended version. The first page of the manuscript, demonstrates not only the extent of the cuts – almost half the page was lost – but the problem of legibility the researchers had to overcome: Trollope’s handwriting is hard to decipher at the best of times, and even more so when struck through.
Although Trollope was able to edit The Duke’s Children so that the narrative did not go ‘wrong’ – and that he was able to do so is a remarkable achievement – it is hard to imagine many readers, faced with the massive accumulation of details now included for the first time, who won’t agree that the restored novel is richer, more complex, more Trollopian: a clearly superior book to the one that has always been published.
‘Of all Trollope’s great political novels, The Duke’s Children is far and away the most psychologically interesting. So it is a treat to read it as he intended it to be read’
LIMITED EDITION VOLUME
A printed line counter is supplied, to enable easy reference to the line numbers in the commentary volume
From the start there was no doubt about the book’s design: this is effectively a Victorian first edition, and should obviously have a lavish Victorian binding. A feature which adds particular lustre to such bindings is hand-marbled page edges, and we contacted the redoubtable Jemma Lewis to see if she could manage these for us. Indeed she could, and she produced some really beautiful trials. Unfortunately, however, the job of marbling the whole edition would be incredibly time-consuming, and we would risk missing the rather crucial date of Trollope’s anniversary. So we opted instead for leather half-binding, with marbled endpapers. Yet having seen just how lovely the marbled edges could be, we were reluctant to lose them, so we decided to offer an alternative binding for those who felt as we did; in addition to the marbled edges, the book is bound in full leather, blocked in 22-carat gold, and presented in a solander box.
To view the hand-bound edition of The Duke's Children click here.
‘This newly recovered version of The Duke’s Children reveals the book as a fully satisfying, completely realised final volume of the magnificent Palliser novels. Here, the writer is just as we would have him be, expansive, humorous, wistful, wise, as he creates this intricate and intriguing world for the last time; and at the centre is the opaque, melancholy, elusive figure of Plantagenet Palliser himself, Duke of Omnium, master of all he surveys, excepting only his children, his life and his soul. We were not told it until now, but The Duke’s Children is a great work of fiction and a great work of art’
To accompany the first complete edition of The Duke’s Children we have commissioned essays from those closely involved in the restoration project; these are printed in a separate commentary volume.
Anthony Trollope was born in Bloomsbury, the fourth son of Thomas Anthony Trollope, a Chancery barrister at Lincoln’s Inn, and his wife Fanny, who later became an extremely popular and prolific novelist. Anthony’s early years showed little sign of what was to come; after miserable schooldays at Harrow he was offered a commission in an Austrian cavalry regiment, but settled for a more sedate career in the General Post Office. Here he was noted for unpunctuality and insubordination, fell badly in debt, and was glad to escape to western Ireland to work as a Surveyor’s clerk.
In Ireland however, Trollope became a new man. Here he married Rose Heseltine and their two sons, Henry and Fred, were born; here he acquired his passion for hunting; and here he became a novelist. His first three books failed to make much impression but The Warden, inspired by a visit to Salisbury Cathedral, caught the public imagination; his income and reputation from writing took off rapidly, and he soon became one of the best-selling novelists of his day.
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Review by NeilShapiro on 22nd Dec 2015
"I purchased the hand-bound volume and it was definitely worth the wait and the extra cost. I have many books in my collection (including a dozen or so other other Folio LE) but I must say that this is..." [read more]
Review by davidjbrown10 on 19th May 2015
"After two unappealing offerings — the spidery script of Magna Carta (not a patch visually on the glorious mediaeval fantasy of the Mappa Mundi) for what seems a great deal of money, and then the ill..." [read more]
Review by archbold on 5th May 2015
"A huge thank you is due to everyone involved in the ten years of work to restore The Duke’s Children. For all lovers of Trollope’s work it was well worth the effort and much appreciated. The resto..." [read more]