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Anthony Trollope’s “Orley Farm”

150 years ago this month, London publishing firm Chapman and Hall issued the first monthly part of Anthony Trollope’s Orley Farm.  This novel, which concerns a forged will and the corrosive effects of guilt, quickly became a blockbuster hit among the reading public.  One factor in its appeal was the illustrations, done by famed pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais.  Trollope personally felt that the plot of Orley Farm was one of his best, though some critics and readers debate whether he was right to reveal the main character’s secret in the middle, rather than at the end, of the tale.

Part one of Orley Farm was issued while Trollope had another novel being serialized in the magazine The Cornhill: his Framley Parsonage, which wrapped up monthly publication in April 1861.   Orley Farm also faced major competition from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which was being serialized in the magazine All the Year Round during Dec. 1860-Aug. 1861.

Special Collections contains a set of the original monthly parts of Orley Farm, pictured above, as well as a copy of the bound parts issued by the publisher in book form (volume 1 was released in 1861, volume 2 in 1862).  Other significant editions include an 1862 American edition and an 1862 edition published by the German firm Bernhard Tauchnitz.

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