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Thomas Adolphus Trollope

Trollope, Thomas Adolphus, 1810—1892

Thomas Adolphus Trollope was born in London, the eldest child of Thomas Anthony Trollope (1777-1835; ODNB), barrister, and Frances (Fanny) Trollope, née Milton (1779-1863; ODNB), travel writer and novelist. His brother was the novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-1882; ODNB). Expecting to inherit a substantial Hertfordshire property after the death of an uncle, Thomas Adolphus’s father raised a large family while living above his means. He leased a 160-acre farm in Harrow and sent Thomas Adolphus to attend Harrow school. These great expectations were dashed, however, when the uncle remarried in 1818 and produced a son and heir the following year.

While his father’s finances continued to decline, Thomas Adolphus Trollope managed to finish at Harrow and was elected a scholar at Winchester College, with prospects of following in his father’s footsteps to Oxford. After finishing at Winchester in July 1828, he sailed with his father to the United States for a six-month visit to Cincinnati, where his mother, two sisters, and younger brother, Henry, had travelled the previous year in an unsuccessful scheme to find employment for Henry. Back in England, he pursued his studies at Oxford under adverse conditions; the success of his mother’s Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832) could not stem the family debts and his father and mother fled to Bruges to avoid his creditors. Henry Trollope died there of tuberculosis as did his father the following year (1835).

After graduating from Oxford in 1835, Thomas Adolphus secured teaching in Birmingham. Before starting, however, he toured France and Austria with his mother, who was researching her next travel books. In 1838, he joined her permanently as her research assistant and literary agent; she in turn helped him develop his own career as a travel writer, appearing as ‘editor’ on the title pages of his first two travelogues, A Summer in Brittany (1840) and A Summer in Western France (1841), although her contributions are likely to have been only nominal. After a period in the Lake District near Penrith, where mother and son briefly settled, they departed for Italy.

During his long residence in Florence and later Rome, he wrote Italian histories, novels, and further travels: Impressions of a Wanderer in Italy, Switzerland, France, and Spain (1850), Tuscany in 1849 and in 1859 (1859), and A Lenten Journey in Umbria and the Marches (1862). He married Theodosia Garrow (1816-1865), a young English poet, at Florence on 3 April 1848. In the 1850s their residence, the Villino Trollope, became the epicentre of English and American expatriate writers. After the death of his mother in 1863 and Theodosia Trollope in 1865, Thomas Adolphus Trollope married Frances Eleanor Ternan (1835-1913), who arrived in Florence bearing a letter of introduction from Charles Dickens, and both subsequently contributed to Dickens’s journal, Household Words, and collaborated in other writings. In 1873 they removed to Rome, where his daughter by his first wife died in childbirth in 1881. Six years later, in 1887, the Trollopes left Italy for Devon, where Thomas Adolphus died on 11 November 1892, aged eighty-two.

Sources:

Neville-Sington, Pamela. ‘Trollope, Thomas Adolphus (1810–1892)’. ODNB. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Texts

Title Published
A Summer in Brittany 1840

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