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Frances Eleanor Trollope

One of the newest additions to the Victorian Collection is Madame Leroux, a three-volume novel by Frances Eleanor Trollope (1835-1913). Frances is an interesting figure because of her place in the realm of Victorian arts and letters. She was a successful actress and writer who was related by birth and by marriage to other well-known 19th-century actors and authors.

Born Frances E. Ternan, she was the oldest daughter of actors Thomas Ternan and Frances Jarman. She and her sisters performed on stage as “infant phenomena” as children, and continued their stage careers as young women. Her youngest sister, Ellen, is best remembered today for her romantic relationship with Charles Dickens. The middle Ternan sister Maria made a career as an artist and journalist.

Frances moved to Florence, Italy to study opera as a young woman. She eventually found employment as a governess to the daughter of Thomas Adolphus Trollope, a widowed author. T.A. Trollope, known to the family as Tom, was the son of Fanny Trollope and the brother of Anthony Trollope, both well-known and prolific novelists.

Frances and Tom were married in 1866 (he was 25 years older than she). They spent much of their life together in Italy, supporting each others’ writing careers. Frances authored a number of novels; Tom, who was an Italian historian, also wrote novels to supplement their income. Together they wrote a book on Italian travel. After her husband’s death, Frances wrote a biography of her famous mother-in-law.

Special Collections contains an extensive collection of works by this talented family, particularly Fanny and Anthony. We continue to search out and acquire the writings of writers like T.A. Trollope and Frances E. Trollope, whose output is less familiar to modern readers and critics.

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