On the Original Illustrations of Trollope's Fiction

The Golden Lion of Granpère

Written 1867 (1 September - 22 October)
Serialized 1872 (January - August), Good Words
Illustrated by Francis Arthur Fraser
Published as a book 1872 (May), Wm Tinsley (associate of Strahan),
also Harper in US (with illustrations)

The 7 illustrations below come from the first American edition published by Harper and Bros., Anthony Trollope, The Golden Lion of Granpère (New York, 1872). It includes the eight full-page, eight half-page and eight quarter-page illustrations by Fraser, each aligned or dropped into precisely the appropriate point in the text. The complete set of twenty-four illustrations were drawn for the serialisation in Good Words which ran from January through August 1872. I follow them with a general discussion of Trollope's novel and Fraser's illustrations (from Chapters 4 and 6 of Trollope on the Net).

  1. Chapter 1:
    F. A. Fraser, opening vignette, Marie Bromar, The Golden Lion of Granpère

  2. Chapter 2:
    F. A. Fraser, "After Supper" [father and son], The Golden Lion of Granpère

  3. Chapter 4:
    F. A. Fraser, "'Don't you know that a young woman like you ought to be married some day?'", The Golden Lion of Granpère

  4. Chapter 8:
    F. A. Fraser, "Her aunt stood for a moment looking at her.", The Golden Lion of Granpère

  5. Chapter 9:
    F. A. Fraser, "'Dear Uncle, I am so glad that you are pleased.'", The Golden Lion of Granpère

  6. Chapter 12:
    F. A. Fraser, "'Oh George, if you could know all.'", The Golden Lion of Granpère

  7. Chapter 13:
    F. A. Fraser, "'Then I will protect her from you.'" [again fatier and son], The Golden Lion of Granpère

From Ellen Moody, Trollope on the Net, Chapter 4:

Trollope said he wrote The Golden Lion of Granpère 'on the model of Nina Balatka and Linda Tressel', and thought it inferior to them and Sir Harry Hotspur. The Golden Lion lacks the tragic intensity of Sir Harry Hotspur. The hero of the latter is an older man who has just lost his only son, the heir to his property. Sir Harry longs to gratify the romantic dreams of Emily, the only child he has left, when Emily is attracted to Sir George Hotspur. Sir George is now Sir Harry's heir, and he would keep the property and family name together. But Sir Harry has been told George is self-seeking and mercenary. The novel tells the story of how Emily and her father slowly realise the young man is utterly without conscience or depth of feeling, while the father's vacillation in favour of George's title gives the young man time and opportunity to persuade the girl to love him. When, upon being offered an annuity and help in escaping prosecution for felony, Sir George deserts Emily, Emily's shock as a result of the whole experience leads to her death, and her death to the devastation of all Sir Harry's hopes for the future. Sir Harry is left 'a grey, worn-out, tottering old man, with large eyes full of sorrow, and a thin mouth that was seldom opened to utter a word' (Sir Harry Hotspur, p. 245).

Nonetheless, The Golden Lion is a remarkable book and rightly named: it has the sunlit charm of The Warden. Its relatively subdued tone comes from the simplicity of the French peasant culture as depicted by Trollope, the naïvete with which each character openly presents his or her motives and the old-world courtesy and tender affection with which the characters habitually treat one another. I can do no better than quote my posting to Trollope-l on it:

I just finished reading a short novel Trollope wrote just before he embarked on He Knew He Was Right. Its goals are to explore those elements in the depths of ordinary human nature which people hide because they are made to be ashamed of them and try to deny them; it differs from Nina Balatka and Linda Tressel because Trollope does not show us what happens when such elements in our nature are perverted or 'crushed'; instead we are led to celebrate our need for one another. It is a comforting book.

We find ourselves in the inn of Michel Voss, who is struck dumb, horrified, and hurt to discover his son, George, is in love with his niece, Marie Bromar. He can't believe it. He rejects this love as 'nonsense'; the two are children, and anyway they didn't ask his permission (The Golden Lion, pp. 15-16). Trollope makes it clear the uncle and niece have strong erotic ties: they are deeply affectionate; she has put her ego into his keeping, and cannot disobey him (p. 20). The son leaves for a nearby town to run another inn; he hopes to earn an income on which eventually to marry Marie. The uncle decides to marry Marie off to a genteel and sophisticated, richer, and in fact much more articulate and sensitive young man than George, Adrian Urmand. Alas, Marie is not attracted. Urmand is not 'manly enough'; he is a 'dandy' by which Marie means he's effete.

Under pressure Marie caves in, and agrees to be bethrothed to Urmand (pp. 62-63, 101-2). She has no reason to believe George even remembers her. She cannot buck her uncle. But then, like Linda, she experiences terrible anguish; she cannot bear to become the wife of a man whom she does not love. There are many dramatic narratives which describe the struggle between the uncle and his niece in which he says she must marry M. Urmand because he will look a fool before all the world if she doesn't; his pride is at stake; she begs to be left alone, but the uncle's brow goes 'black with anger' when she cries out 'Oh, the world -- the world, uncle! Why should we care for the world' (pp. 77, 82, 87-88). George hears of what's happening, the 'thing goes into his heart like a knife' (p. 119), and he rushes back. He speaks to Marie in ways that 'stab her to the heart', accuses his father of cruelty and tells M. Urmand 'She doesn't love you, and that's all there is to it; it is wrong to marry anyone who does not love you. It will make you most miserable of all' (pp. 142-51, 232-33).

What happens is we discover the uncle does love his son -- he just wants to remain master of the house. There is a wonderful passage where the uncle suddenly realises how odd it is he is doing all he to hurt and destroy the lives of people he acknowledges to himself are most dear to him (p. 225). He had earlier understood that his feeling that he is 'nearly as young a man as his son' was ground for identification with his son's desire for Marie (p. 63). Marie also shows some of Nina Balatka's spunk; she writes a poignant and frank letter to Urmand (p. 87). By now Urmand wants to break the engagement, but is egged on by the uncle. Gradually the uncle admits to himself he prefers to have his son around than Urmand, whom, like Marie, he dislikes as effeminate. Urmand begins to recall Cousin Henry in the short novel named after him; because he is diffident and sensitive everyone behaves contemptuously towards him. Michel has a second wife, an obtuse yet kindly woman who satisfies his peasant or ordinary needs very well; she sees no further than is good for her. It is she who helps to manage the breaking of the engagement at a picnic no one wants to go to, but is engineered to soothe the wounded ego of Urmand. In this way the world thinks he was not simply used and thrown away. I like the delicacy and sympathy with which Trollope entered Urmand's hurt pride too.

The book is concise, the words all general and simple. There is a lyrical rhythm to many passages which brings us into a speci al realm where externals are cut away so we can see clearly to the pattern underlying the action. Yet there is precision and sufficient details to keep the world of the book apparently realistic. The landscapes are Arcadian. Uncannily, Trollope captures the imaginative feel or essence of the inner and outward lives of Catholic and Protestant peasants in a village which borders Eastern France and Germany. At the time Richard Hutton commended the story for enabling the reader to see through the 'characteristic dress and gestures' by which people communicate important feelings they cannot put into words. As ever no one says what it is that lies under this dress; it is an Oedipal triangle. We also find that not what others say about us, but our inner nature gives us content in life.

From Chapter 6:

In the intendedly simplified and brief novel, The Golden Lion of Granpère, Francis Arthur Fraser was able to translate Trollope's text into a series of pictures which convey an adult sense of how real people cope with inescapable conflicts between the ordinary circumstances and demands of their existence and their longings for some intense satisfaction. Since the story is concentrated we can look at the whole sequence of pictures to see how the original illustrations to Trollope's novels evidence a determination upon the part of the novelist and illustrator to emphasise those losses and hurts in life which are hardest to endure, and at the same time to uplift the reader through the catharsis of sympathetic identification and idealisation.

We begin by examining the climactic full-page illustration of the series which appeared in the centre of the novella, The Golden Lion of Granpère, first published as a book in 1872, because it is so good. It may remind readers of a more famous one of Lady Mason's prostration of herself before Sir Peregrine Orme (from Orley Farm) when she finally tells him she is guilty of the crime with which she has been charged. The scene occurs when George Voss learns that his father has succeeded in coercing Marie Bromar into engaging herself to Adrian Urmand, a prosperous town merchant. George and Marie Bromar grew up together, fell in love, and became engaged, but were forcibly separated by George's father who is also Marie's uncle. George becomes enraged, determines to return home immediately, with the intention of using his words to 'stab [Marie] through the heart' because she has (so he thinks) stabbed him by this betrayal of them both.

As is so common in the first illustrations to Trollope's novels, we see the moment after the hard encounter, when passion is spent and quiet thought begins to intervene. Fraser depicts George as a strongly-built man in his twenties bent slightly over a young woman whose hands he is grasping in his own while he attempts to pull her up from the floor by pressing the weight of his body down through his legs onto the floor. He looks down at her intently. Marie is equally strongly-built and is reluctantly rising from a kneeling posture in which her lower body takes the form of a chair as she is lifted through her upraised arms. From her knees to her waist her legs are in a slightly bent horizontal line as she allows herself to be lifted. She looks downward; one of her arms conceals her face. We only see her right ear and her dark curly hair which she wears swept up in a knot. Her ear is at the centre of the picture, as on the opposite page we read that she is listening to George repeat 'Marie . . . Marie -- there is no use in this. Stand up', to which the snatch of dialogue the line that appears below the picture is her response, 'Oh, George, if you could know all' (The Golden Lion, p. 71 and facing illustration). They are dressed just respectably: George has a worn suit and a collar; Marie wears a tight darkly-coloured bodice over a white half-shift (or working blouse), and a lighter-coloured apron tied with a neat bow at the back of her waist over a somewhat darker skirt. The room is bare but, for a cottage, adequately furnished. Each piece of furniture is carefully drawn; we see a tablecloth and pipe on one table. There's a picture of a saint on the wall (this is a story of a French Catholic family). Very careful cross-hatching work has been performed across the walls and floor to create gradations in colour and depth throughout the room.

The sequence of pictures makes explicit the underlying Oedipal pattern of the story: Marie and George's intense relationship with one another; George's rivalry with his father over Marie and mastery of the household; and Marie and the father's close affection for one another, with Michel using this to pressure her into obeying him. The frontispiece depicts Marie offering her hand to George over a table as he draws back. The next full-page illustration is one of Marie 'standing now close behind her uncle, with both her hands upon his head'. This is followed by a half-page illustration over a text which describes a walk Marie takes with her uncle; we see the uncle looking down at Marie kindly; the caption reads: 'Don't you know a young woman like you ought to be married some day?'. Then we have a full-page picture of George kissing Marie. We read on further to stop at a half- page illustration which reveals Michel's wife looking quizzically at Marie. These last two pictures are then undercut (or maybe reinforced) by another superb full-page quietly ironic illustration which depicts Marie's relief that she has won back her uncle's love by accepting Urmand's offer ('Dear Uncle, I am so glad that you are pleased'). Quarter-page drawings include sketches of George troubled or rushing back and of Marie thoughtfully composing her letter to Armand asking for her freedom. After the climactic scene I described above, we see a depiction of the uncle-father threatening his son ('Then I will protect her from you'); then we see him in a vignette realising he is making a life for them all which can yield nothing but grief and privation. Finally, he appears in two half-size pictures placed directly above the scenes in the text wherein we see him very awkwardly attempting to explain to Urmand that he's not wanted after all. Fraser's last picture is a full-page drawing of celebratory picnic (frontispiece, pp. 1, 19, 23, 30, 37, 48, 57, 63, 66, 78, 94, 110, 118, 123).

Throughout the sequence Fraser endows his figures with dignity and strength, and often shows them behaving affectionately to one another. This, I think, is what Trollope wanted. Another quality common to Fraser's and all illustrations of Trollope's novels is that they are not allegorical or emblematic. They may not be interpreted in terms of a specific religious scheme or set of symbols. When we have a depiction of people dealing with death, we find quiet pictures of people comforting or failing to comfort one another . . .

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated: 2o February 2004