The Last Chronicle of Barset
First edition title page.
|Illustrator||George Housman Thomas|
|Series||Chronicles of Barsetshire|
|Publisher||Smith & Elder (book)|
|1 December 1866 – 6 July 1867 (serial); March (Vol. I) & July (Vol. II) 1867 (book)|
|Media type||Print (Serial and Hardback)|
|Preceded by||The Small House at Allington (1864)|
The Last Chronicle of Barset concerns an indigent but learned clergyman, the Reverend Josiah Crawley, the perpetual curate of Hogglestock, as he stands accused of stealing a cheque.
The novel is notable for the non-resolution of a plot continued from the previous novel in the series, The Small House at Allington, involving Lily Dale and Johnny Eames. Its main storyline features the courtship of the Rev. Mr Crawley's daughter, Grace, and Major Henry Grantly, son of the wealthy Archdeacon Grantly. The Archdeacon, although allowing that Grace is a lady, doesn't think her of high enough rank or wealth for his widowed son; his position is strengthened by the Reverend Mr Crawley's apparent crime. Almost broken by poverty and trouble, the Reverend Mr Crawley hardly knows himself if he is guilty or not; fortunately, the mystery is resolved just as Major Grantly's determination and Grace Crawley's own merit force the Archdeacon to overcome his prejudice against her as a daughter-in-law. As with Lucy Robarts in Framley Parsonage, the objecting parent finally invites the young lady into the family; this new connection also inspires the Dean and Archdeacon to find a new, more prosperous, post for Grace's impoverished father.
Through death or marriage, this final volume manages to tie up more than one thread from the beginning of the series. One subplot deals with the death of Mrs. Proudie, the virago wife of the Bishop of Barchester, and his subsequent grief and collapse. Mrs. Proudie, upon her arrival in Barchester in Barchester Towers, had increased the tribulations of the gentle Mr. Harding, title character of The Warden; he dies of a peaceful old age, mourned by his family and the old men he loved and looked after as Warden.
Characters of the novel
The storyline places several of the characters in prominent roles throughout the hierarchy of the Church of England.
- Reverend Josiah Crawley is the central character throughout the entire storyline of this novel. The story begins with him acting as the perpetual curate of Hogglestock. He has been accused of stealing a cheque worth 20 pounds. His wife is Mary Crawley, and together they are the parents of another central character, Grace Crawley, as well as two other children named Bob and Jane.
- Bishop Proudie, also Doctor Proudie, acts as the bishop over the diocese of Barchester. His wife is Mrs. Proudie, and both characters were introduced in the preceding Barchester Towers novel.
- Archdeacon Theophilus Grantly, also Doctor Grantly, is archdeacon of Barchester and rector of Plumstead Episcopi. He is married to Mrs. Grantly, and their son Major Henry Grantly is a central character in the main plot. Doctor Grantly and his wife were introduced in the preceding novel The Warden.
- Dean Frank Arabin, also Doctor Arabin, serves as the dean of Barchester. He is husband to Eleanor Arabin, and they have a daughter named Susan “Posy” Arabin. Doctor Arabin is a close friend of Josiah Crawley, but is absent from his deanery for the majority of the story.
- Septimus Harding is a retired warden and precentor living at Barchester deanery. He is the father of Eleanor Arabin and Mrs. Grantly. While on his deathbed, Mr. Harding recommends Josiah Crawley for a new appointment in the church. Mr. Harding is the title character for the preceding novel The Warden.
- Rector Mortimer Tempest, also Doctor Tempest, is rector of Silverbridge and is charged with the task of heading up an ecclesiastical commission to investigate the ramifications of Josiah Crawley's expected conviction under criminal law.
- Reverend Mark Robarts is the curate of the parish of Framley and a friend of the Crawley family throughout the story. His wife is Mrs. Robarts and the Robarts family is central to the preceding novel Framley Parsonage.
Non-clerical Male Characters
- Major Henry Grantly is a central character to the plot and is the love interest of Grace Crawley. He is the son of Archdeacon Theophilus Grantly and Mrs. Grantly. His is a widower with one child, Edith Grantly. He is retired from the military position of major, and resides at Crosby Lodge under the financial provisions of his father.
- Johnny Eames is the "private secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Income-tax board" :ch. XV. He is in love with Lily Dale but his proposals are rejected numerous times throughout the story. He is the nephew of Thomas Toogood and a distant cousin of Mary Crawley and Grace Crawley. Mr. Eames also participates in a secondary romance with Madalina Demolines which is ended before the conclusion of the story.
- Thomas Toogood is an attourney who assists Josiah Crawley in his legal troubles. He is the uncle of Johnny Eames and cousin of Mary Crawley.
- Adolphus Crosbie is the love interest of Lily Dale. He had previously broken off relations with Lily Dale to marry Lady Alexandrina who died some short while before the storyline begins. After dissolving his relationship with Lily Dale, Mr. Crosbie had received a “thrashing” from Johnny Eames.
- Conway Dalrymple is a painter. Over the course of the story, Mr. Dalrymple is painting a portrait of one of his love interests, Clara Van Siever. The time and place for sittings are orchestrated by another of his love interests, Mrs. Dobbs Broughton. Mr. Dalrymple is also a close friend of Johnny Eames.
- Grace Crawley is a central character and serves as the love interest of Major Henry Grantly. Miss Crawley is the daughter of Josiah Crawley and Mary Crawley, and is a cousin of Johnny Eames. She becomes close friends with Lily Dale.
- Lily Dale is the love interest of Johnny Eames and had a previous relationship with Adolphus Crosbie detailed in the preceding novel The Small House at Allington. She becomes close friends with Grace Crawley.
- Mrs. Proudie is the virago wife of Bishop Proudie. The Proudie storyline is a continuation of Barchester Towers.
- The Last Chronicle of Barset—easy-to-read HTML version at University of Adelaide Library
- The Last Chronicle of Barset at Project Gutenberg
- The Last Chronicle of Barset at the Trollope Society