With a title longer than a tweet, the three-volume first edition of Frances Trollope’s 1836 anti-slavery novel came to the Mercantile as part of the McLaughlin Collection, housed for years in the Fry-carved McLaughlin case, one of the glories of the Library. The novel now sits in the cataloguing cage where it is as unlikely to be browsed as it was behind glass and butternut. Which is too bad. We’ve always liked Domestic Manners (required reading for Mercantile employees) and we’re famously devoted to Anthony, so we’ve always been curious about Frances’s fiction and are not at all surprised to find, having finished the first volume, that it’s Good Stuff. Not only is it good, but there are plenty of local connections. Unsurprising, given FT’s exposure to the neighborhood.
We will report fully upon finishing the novel. What we will tell you now is that the book was illustrated by Auguste Hervieu, the long-suffering but devoted French artist who kept the Trollopes from starving while they were here, and those illustrations are worth the price of admission. And the book is printed on the most luxurious vellum. It is a great pleasure to handle and hold.