All Things Trollopian

The Manuscripts Division’s extensive holdings on the celebrated English Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (1815-82) have grown measurably thanks to a generous recent gift by the Rev. George S. Rigby, Jr., of Media, Pennsylvania. The George S. Rigby, Jr., Collection of Anthony Trollope (C1582) contains 122 autograph letters of the author, many of which are not in The Letters of Anthony Trollope, edited by N. John Hall (Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press, 1983), 2 volumes. In addition, the Rigby Collection includes autograph envelopes, notes, and documents; leaves from his novel Castle Richmond (1860) and Australian journal (1872); selected letters of his older brother, the novelist Thomas Adolphus Trollope (1810-92), and other members of the Trollope family; original photographs; and caricatures, including an original watercolor (reproduced below) by the French artist “Sem” [Georges Goursat (1863-1934)], which is similar to a caricature done by him for Sem’s Pantheon of Celebrities of the Day (1876). Printed editions of Trollope’s work were also donated as part of the Rigby Collection and will be cataloged and housed in Rare Books.

In an original autograph manuscript leaf, in the Rigby Collection, for an article published in The Century Magazine (July 1883), the American author Henry James (1843-1916) observed, “Trollope did not write for posterity, he wrote for the day, the moment; but those are just the writers of whom posterity is apt to take hold. So much of the life of his time is reflected in his novels that we must believe a part of the record will be saved; and they are full of so much that is sound and true and genial that readers with an eye to that sort of entertainment will always be sure … to turn to them. Trollope will remain one of the most trustworthy … of the writers who have helped the heart of man to know itself….” Henry James’s confidence in Trollope’s enduring place in English literature has been borne out by generations of readers, drawn to the author’s portrayals of politics, society, gender, and other timely issues.

George S. Rigby, Jr., the collector and donor, was born on 27 April 1937, and raised in Media, Pennsylvania. He was educated in Media public schools, graduated from Asbury University (1959), and the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, B. Div. (1963) and M. Div. (1972). Rigby was ordained to the United Methodist Church ministry in 1960 and served six churches in eastern Pennsylvania until his retirment in 2002. Since he retired, the Rev. George S. Rigby, Jr., has served as minister-of-visitation for a church in Aston. Pennsylvania. Rigby has had a life-long interest in collecting. After first collecting holographic material of English and American authors, Rigby began in 1980 to focus on Anthony Trollope. His Trollope collection really began with the purchase of a single autograph letter from the George MacManus Company (Philadelphia), through David Holmes, whose career as an antiquarian bookseller began in that firm’s rare books and manuscripts department. Holmes subsequently opened his own business and, until his untimely death in 2016, was the sole source of all the Trollope material in the Rigby Collection. A few items were purchased since 2016 from Holmes daughter, Sarah Holmes Bookbinder.

Rigby donated the Trollope Collection to the Princeton University Library in September 2017 so that it could be (in the donor’s own words) “maintained as a unit and preserved in a facility suitable for its care, and in an institution which contained material consonant with [his collection].” His collection nicely complements the rich holdings of Trollope in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, especially in the Morris L. Parrish Collection of Victorian Novelists and in the Robert H. Taylor Collection of English and American Literature. More than a dozen complete Trollope manuscripts are preserved in these collections, including Orley Farm (ca. 1860) and North America (ca. 1861), along with a wealth of correspondence, journals, illustrations, and other materials. These two collections have grown over the years by judicious acquisitions, such as selected papers of Thomas Adolphus Trollope and Lionel Grimston Fawkes’s original illustrations for Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now (1875). For more information, consult the relevant finding aids and online catalog. Researchers can also contact Public Services at rbsc@princeton.edu


Anthony Trollope, by “Sem.”

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