Frances Milton Trollope (10 March 1779 – 6 October 1863) was an English novelist and writer who published as Mrs. Trollope or Mrs. Frances Trollope. Her first book, Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832) has been the best known, but she also published strong social novels: an anti-slavery novel said to influence the work of the American Harriet Beecher Stowe, the first industrial novel, and two anti-Catholic novels that used a Protestant position to examine self-making.
Recent scholars note that modernist critics tended to exclude women writers such as Frances Trollope from serious consideration. Her detractors familiarly called her by the diminutive Fanny Trollope, considered slightly vulgar, and discounted her prolific production.
Frances Trollope should not be confused with her daughter-in-law Frances Eleanor Trollope (née Ternan), the second wife of Thomas Adolphus Trollope, and also a novelist.
Born at Stapleton, Bristol, Frances Milton at the age of 30 married Thomas A. Trollope, a barrister, on 23 May 1809 at Heckfield, Hampshire. They had four sons and three daughters, and he struggled with financial misfortune.
In 1827, Frances Trollope took her family to Fanny Wright's utopian community, Nashoba Commune, in the United States. This community soon failed, and she ended up in Cincinnati, Ohio with her sons. Although she tried to find ways to support herself, they were unsuccessful. She encouraged the sculptor Hiram Powers to do Dante Alighieri's Commedia in waxworks. After her return to England, she began writing to support her family.
Two sons also became writers: her eldest surviving son, Thomas Adolphus Trollope, wrote mostly histories: The Girlhood of Catherine de Medici, History of Florence, What I Remember, Life of Pius IX, and some novels. Her fourth son Anthony Trollope became the better known and received novelist, establishing a strong reputation, especially for his serial novels such as those set in the fictional county of Barsetshire, and his political series known as the Palliser novels.
On her return to England, Trollope began writing and gained notice with her first book, Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832). She gave an unfavourable and, in the opinions of partisans of America, exaggerated account of the subject.  She was thought to reflect the disparaging views of American society allegedly commonplace at that time among English people of the higher social classes. The book is also acerbic and witty. Her novel, The Refugee in America (1832), expressed similar views.
Next came The Abbess (1833), an anti-Catholic novel, as was Father Eustace (1847). While they borrowed from Victorian Gothic conventions, the scholar Susan Griffin notes that Trollope wrote a Protestant critique of Catholicism that also expressed "a gendered set of possibilities for self-making", which has been little recognised by scholars. She noted that "Modernism's lingering legacy in criticism meant overlooking a woman's nineteenth century studies of religious controversy."
Trollope wrote more travel works, such as Belgium and Western Germany in 1833 (1834), Paris and the Parisians in 1835 (1836), and Vienna and the Austrians (1838).
She received more attention during her lifetime for what are considered several strong novels of social protest: Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw (1836) was the first anti-slavery novel, influencing the American Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). Michael Armstrong: Factory Boy began publication in 1840 and was the first industrial novel to be published in Britain. Other socially conscious novels included The Vicar of Wrexhill (1837 / Richard Bentley, London, 3 volumes), which took on corruption in the Church of England and evangelical circles. Possibly her greatest work is the Widow Barnaby trilogy (1839–1855). This set a pattern of sequels which her son Anthony Trollope also used in his oeuvre.
In later years Mrs. Trollope continued to write novels and books on miscellaneous subjects, writing in all over 100 volumes. She was considered to have powers of observation and a sharp and caustic wit, but her prolific production and the rise of modernist criticism caused her works to be overlooked in the twentieth century. Few of her books are now read, but her first and two others are available on Project Gutenberg. For a full list of her works, see Frances Trollope bibliography.
After the death of her husband and daughter, in 1835 and 1838 respectively, Trollope relocated to Florence, Italy. One year she invited Theodosia Gallow to be her house guest and she married her son. She lived with her son and his wife. She died in 1863 and she was buried near four other members of the Trollope household in the English Cemetery of Florence.
- Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832)
- Belgium and Western Germany in 1833 (1834)
- Paris and the Parisians in 1835 (1836)
- Frances Trollope (1838), Vienna and the Austrians, London: R. Bentley, OCLC 2431804 + v.2
- Michael Armstrong: Factory Boy (published in 1840)
- Jessie Phillips: A Tale of the Present Day
- The Life and Adventures of Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw; or Scenes on the Mississippi
- The Lottery of Marriage
- The Vicar of Wrexhill
- The Widow Barnaby
- The Widow Married; A Sequel to the Widow Barnaby
- The Widow Wedded; or The Adventures of the Barnabys in America
References and sources
- Nicola Diane Thompson, Victorian Women Writers and the Woman Question, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
- Chisholm 1911.
- Frances Eleanor Trollope, "Frances Trollope Her Life and Literary Work from George III to Victoria, Vol. One", (Bentley and Son, 1895) p.42 
- Susan M. Griffin, "Revising the Popish Plot: Frances Trollope's 'The Abbess' and 'Father Eustace'", Victorian Literature and Culture, 2003, p. 279, JSTOR, accessed 24 February 2011
- The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, Volume 4; Volumes 1800–1900, Cambridge University Press, 2000
- "Michael Armstrong: Factory Boy". Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
- Krueger, Christine L. et al, eds. (2003). "Trollope, Frances Milton (1779–1863)". Encyclopedia of British Writers: 19th and 20th Centuries. Infobase Publishing. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-8160-4670-6.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Trollope, Anthony". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Brenda Ayres (2002). Frances Trollope and the Novel of Social Change. Greenwood P. ISBN 0-313-31755-0.
- Teresa Ransom (1995). Fanny Trollope. Alan Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-1269-3.
- Historical fiction
- Frances Trollope: 1779–1863—Bio and links to overviews of major works
- Three Voices: Frances Trollope – The author describes her life in Cincinnati, Cincinnati Library
- Works by Frances Milton Trollope at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Frances Trollope at Internet Archive
- Works by or about Mrs. Frances Trollope at Internet Archive
- Works by Frances Trollope at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Mrs. Trollope's Bazaar, Cincinnati, Ohio 1828–1829, Cincinnati Memory
- "Mrs. Trollope's America", Vanity Fair, June 2007