Orley Farm. Volumes 1 and 2.

By Anthony Trollope

Printed: 1862

Publisher: Chapman & Hall. London

Edition: first edition

Dimensions 15 × 22 × 3 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 15 x 22 x 3


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Red calf spine and corners. Red cloth boards. Gilt title and banding on spine. Dimensions are for one volume.

Published in 1862 by Chapman & Hall using unsold shilling parts

These first editions are true collectors’ examples

Orley Farm is a novel written in the realist mode by Anthony Trollope (1815–82) and illustrated by the Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais (1829–96). It was first published in monthly shilling parts by the London publisher Chapman and Hall. Although this novel appeared to have undersold (possibly because the shilling part was being overshadowed by magazines, such as The Cornhill, that offered a variety of stories and poems in each issue), Orley Farm became Trollope’s personal favourite. George Orwell said the book contained “one of the most brilliant descriptions of a lawsuit in English fiction.”

The house in the book was based on a farm in Harrow once owned by the Trollope family. The real-life farm became a school, which was originally supposed to be the feeder school to Harrow School. It was renamed Orley Farm School after the novel, with Trollope’s permission.

Orley Farm was first published in monthly shilling parts by the London publisher Chapman and Hall from March 1861 to October 1862. Each part comprised two illustrations that were situated at the front, and two to three chapters that followed. The first volume, also published by Chapman and Hall, appeared in October 1861, before the novel’s serialisation was completed. Upon completion in 1862, the second volume was produced.

To produce some of these volumes Chapman and Hall used the unsold parts, making the double volume set valuable for present-day collectors. While the cost for the shilling parts was low, that for the double volume set was high, at eleven shillings per volume.


When Joseph Mason of Groby Park, Yorkshire, died, he left his estate to his family. A codicil to his will, however, left Orley Farm (near London) to his much younger second wife and infant son. The will and the codicil were in her handwriting, and there were three witnesses, one of whom was no longer alive. A bitterly fought court case confirmed the codicil.

Twenty years pass. Lady Mason lives at Orley Farm with her adult son, Lucius. Samuel Dockwrath, a tenant, is asked to leave by Lucius, who wants to try new intensive farming methods. Aggrieved, and knowing of the original case (John Kenneby, one of the codicil witnesses, had been an unsuccessful suitor of his wife Miriam Usbech), Dockwrath investigates and finds a second deed signed by the same witnesses on the same date, though they can remember signing only one. He travels to Groby Park in Yorkshire, where Joseph Mason the younger lives with his comically parsimonious wife and persuades Mason to have Lady Mason prosecuted for perjury. The prosecution fails, but Lady Mason later confesses privately that she committed the forgery and is prompted by conscience to give up the estate.

There are various subplots. The main one deals with a slowly unfolding romance between Felix Graham (a young and relatively poor barrister without family) and Madeline Staveley, daughter of Judge Stavely of Noningsby. Graham has a long-standing engagement to the penniless Mary Snow, whom he supports and educates while she is being “moulded” to be his wife.

Between the Staveleys at Alston and Orley Farm at Hanworth lies the Cleve, where Sir Peregrine Orme lives with his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Orme, and grandson, Peregrine. Sir Peregrine falls in love with Lady Mason and is briefly engaged to her, but she confesses her crime to Sir Peregine, and they call off the match.

Meanwhile, Mr. Furnival, another barrister, befriends Lady Mason, arousing the jealousy of his wife. His daughter, Sophia, has a brief relationship with Augustus Stavely and a brief engagement to Lucius Mason. Eventually Furnival and his wife are reconciled, and Sophia’s engagement is dropped. Sophia is portrayed as an intelligent woman who writes comically skilful letters.

Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815 – 6 December 1882) was an English novelist and civil servant of the Victorian era. Among his best-known works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote novels on political, social, and gender issues, and other topical matters.

Trollope’s literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he had regained the esteem of critics by the mid-20th century.

Though Trollope had decided to become a novelist, he had accomplished very little writing during his first three years in Ireland. At the time of his marriage, he had only written the first of three volumes of his first novel, The Macdermots of Ballycloran. Within a year of his marriage, he finished that work.

Trollope began writing on the numerous long train trips around Ireland he had to take to carry out his postal duties. Setting very firm goals about how much he would write each day, he eventually became one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote his earliest novels while working as a Post Office inspector, occasionally dipping into the “lost-letter” box for ideas.

Plaque on Custom House in Belfast, where Trollope maintained his office as Postal Surveyor for the northern half of Ireland.

Significantly, many of his earliest novels have Ireland as their setting—natural enough given that he wrote them or thought them up while he was living and working in Ireland, but unlikely to enjoy warm critical reception, given the contemporary English attitude towards Ireland. Critics have pointed out that Trollope’s view of Ireland separates him from many of the other Victorian novelists. Other critics claimed that Ireland did not influence Trollope as much as his experience in England, and that the society in Ireland harmed him as a writer, especially since Ireland was experiencing the Great Famine during his time there. However, these critics have been accused of bigoted opinions against Ireland who fail or refuse to acknowledge both Trollope’s true attachment to the country and the country’s capacity as a rich literary field.

Trollope published four novels about Ireland. Two were written during the Great Famine, while the third deals with the famine as a theme (The Macdermots of BallycloranThe Kellys and the O’Kellys, and Castle Richmond, respectively). The Macdermots of Ballycloran was written while he was staying in the village of Drumsna, County Leitrim. The Kellys and the O’Kellys (1848) is a humorous comparison of the romantic pursuits of the landed gentry (Francis O’Kelly, Lord Ballindine) and his Catholic tenant (Martin Kelly). Two short stories deal with Ireland (“The O’Conors of Castle Conor, County Mayo” and “Father Giles of Ballymoy”). Some critics argue that these works seek to unify an Irish and British identity, instead of viewing the two as distinct. Even as an Englishman in Ireland, Trollope was still able to attain what he saw as essential to being an “Irish writer”: possessed, obsessed, and “mauled” by Ireland.

The reception of the Irish works left much to be desired. Henry Colburn wrote to Trollope, “It is evident that readers do not like novels on Irish subjects as well as on others.” In particular, magazines such as The New Monthly Magazine, which included reviews that attacked the Irish for their actions during the famine, were representative of the dismissal by English readers of any work written about the Irish.

Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA (8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896) was an English painter and illustrator who was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was a child prodigy who, aged eleven, became the youngest student to enter the Royal Academy Schools. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded at his family home in London, at 83 Gower Street (now number 7). Millais became the most famous exponent of the style, his painting Christ in the House of His Parents (1849–50) generating considerable controversy, and he produced a picture that could serve as the embodiment of the historical and naturalist focus of the group, Ophelia, in 1851–52.

By the mid-1850s, Millais was moving away from the Pre-Raphaelite style to develop a new form of realism in his art. His later works were enormously successful, making Millais one of the wealthiest artists of his day, but some former admirers including William Morris saw this as a sell-out (Millais notoriously allowed one of his paintings to be used for a sentimental soap advertisement). While these and early 20th-century critics, reading art through the lens of Modernism, viewed much of his later production as wanting, this perspective has changed in recent decades, as his later works have come to be seen in the context of wider changes and advanced tendencies in the broader late nineteenth-century art world, and can now be seen as predictive of the art world of the present.

Millais’s personal life has also played a significant role in his reputation. His wife Effie was formerly married to the critic John Ruskin, who had supported Millais’s early work. The annulment of the Ruskin marriage and Effie’s subsequent marriage to Millais have sometimes been linked to his change of style, but she became a powerful promoter of his work and they worked in concert to secure commissions and expand their social and intellectual circles.

Millais was also very successful as a book illustrator, notably for the works of Anthony Trollope and the poems of Tennyson. His complex illustrations of the parables of Jesus were published in 1864. His father-in-law commissioned stained-glass windows based on them for Kinnoull Parish Church, Kinnoull. He also provided illustrations for magazines such as Good Words. As a young man Millais frequently went on sketching expeditions to Keston and Hayes. While there he painted a sign for an inn where he used to stay, near to Hayes church (cited in Chums annual, 1896, page 213).


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