Plotting colonial authority: Trollope's Ireland,
In taking up his position for the Post Office in Ireland in 1841, Anthony Trollope – like so many other men of his time and place – migrated to a colony to better himself professionally and economically. 1 According to his own report in An Autobiography (1883), his peers among the clerks in the London office did not view the move as especially clever: “There was … a conviction that nothing could be worse than the berth of a surveyor's clerk in Ireland … It was probably thought then that none but a man absurdly incapable would go on such a mission to the west of Ireland. ” 2 Yet the material benefits were considerable, as Trollope soon realized, particularly compared to English conditions of paid work:
My salary in Ireland was to be but £100 a year; but I was to receive fifteen shillings a day for every day that I was away from home, and sixpence for every mile that I travelled. The same allowances were made in England; but at that time travelling in Ireland was done at half the English prices. My income in Ireland, after paying my expenses, became at once £400. This was the first good fortune of my life. (An Autobiography 58–59)
Financially speaking, then, it is no exaggeration to say that “Ireland made Trollope. ” 3 Moreover, his position there not only increased his income and earned him preferment back in England: it also gave him the material for his first two novels, The Macdermots of Ballycloran (1847) and The Kellys and the O'Kellys (1848), as well as three subsequent ones – Castle Richmond (1860), An Eye for an Eye (1879), and The Landleaguers (1882–83) – all set primarily in Ireland. Trollope thus experienced the colony as literary capital even after he returned to England. And from the first, his employment as a traveling colonial administrator was intertwined with his work as a novelist-to-be.
By contrast with the previous one, this chapter charts the westward flow of mid-century imperial traffic, with a focus on the “good fortune” of one Englishman rather than the material and discursive immiseration