On the Original Illustrations of Trollope's Fiction

Ralph the Heir

Written 1869 (4 April - 7 August)
Serialized 1870 (January) - 1871 (July), St Paul's, Supplement, monthly numbers
Illustrated Francis Arthur Fraser
Published as a book 1871 (April), Hurst and Blackett

In his bibliographical study of editions of Trollope, Michael Sadleir wrote that only 11 of a projected 18 illustrations by Francis Arthur Fraser were ever printed (see Michael Sadleir, Trollope: a bibliography [London: Dawson, 1928]); however, Hall has since written that the 18 full-page illustrations were published by Routledge in 1871 (pp. 141-43). I have reproduced 7 of the 11 as they appear in a recent Dover facsimile reprint of the American edition, with their accompanying captions and, just below these, quoted two brief excerpts from Chapter 6 of my book ("The Original Illustrations for Trollope's Novels, Trollope on the Net).

  1. Chapter 6: Mary Bonner

    Francis Arthur Fraser, "The doctor was at her elbow to the last, -- and her boxes and trunks seemed to extricate themselves from the general mass'" , Ralph the Heir

  2. Chapter 11: Newton Priory

    Francis Arthur Fraser, "'The Squire paused a moment, and then asked a question, 'What should you say if I proposed to sell Brownriggs?'" , Ralph the Heir

  3. Chapter 15: The Cheshire Cheese

    Francis Arthur Fraser, "The battle had ben fought since man first crawled upon the earth,' continued Moggs, stretching himself to his full height and pointing to the farthest confines of theinhabited globe.'" , Ralph the Heir

  4. Chapter 25: Mr Griffenbottom

    Francis Arthur Fraser, "'The big loaf; -- that's what we want,' said one mother of many children, taking Sir Thomas by the hand.", Ralph the Heir

  5. Chapter 26: Moggs, Purity, and the Rights of Labour

    Francis Arthur Fraser, "He sat there alone in the little upstairs parlour, thinking of his speech for the evening, -- thinking, too, of Polly Neefit.'" , Ralph the Heir

  6. Chapter 31: It is all settled

    Francis Arthur Fraser, "In a moment the three men were on their knees, and it was clear that Mr Newton was insensible'", Ralph the Heir

  7. Chapter 34: Alone in the house

    Francis Arthur Fraser, "Ralph for the first time since the accident, burst out into a flood of tears", Ralph the Heir

    It's worth noting how often in the illustrations to this book Fraser uses silhouettes to express melancholy, grief, distress. This is found in the idyllic style (witness Millais's illustrations for Orley Farm, but the later illustrators turn to dark shadows more consistently.

From Trollope on the Net, Chapter 6 ("On the Original Illustrations of Trollope's Novels")

A visual realisation of such a description by Trollope -- and they are instrinsic to his power -- requires a drawing in the sixties or seventies style. In Orley Farm, Millais represents such scenes through detailed darkened landscapes which use black lines against a white groundwork so that the whole surface of the picture seems alive with feeling and a mellowed suggestiveness (see, for example, 'Lucius Mason, as he leaned on the Gate that was no longer his own', facing p. 264). In The Last Chronicle of Barset George Housman Thomas imitates Stone's sparser strokes to achieve the lighter painterly style of the landscapes in He Knew He Was Right; in Ralph the Heir, Francis Arthur Fraser uses silhouettes; and throughout Phineas Redux, Francis Montague Holl combines depictions of people in exacerbated states of distress with a dark chiaroscuro which gives his drawings the effect of a 'wash' of intensely-felt colour. Holl's style is associated with a slightly later pessimistic development from the idyllic called graphic realism; nonetheless, his pictures present the same autumnal mood or details and depictions of everyday moments in ordinary lives when the spirit falters, often just before rousing itself to fight again, that we find in Millais, Thomas and Fraser. All five artists create pictorial equivalents to Trollope's verbal suggestiveness. I instance the landscape scene in The Last Chronicle where we see Lily Dale and Johnny Eames walking side-by-side together as she once more lets him know she does not want him as her husband, and one of the hero of Ralph the Heir some time after his father has died (The Last Chronicle, 'Lily wishes that they might swear to be brother and sister', p. 322; Ralph the Heir, 'Ralph, for the first time since the accident burst out into a flood of tears', facing p. 245) . . .

The ordeals and depictions of male characters in The Last Chronicle find analogous crises and illustrations in many other novels by Trollope. During a group read of The Vicar of Bullhampton, a few of us were led to argue passionately over how to interpret the intense trauma of Harry Gilmore, the deep humiliation of Mr Brattle, and the comic mortification of the Vicar of the title, Frank Fenwick. Several of the pictures of these men recall those of Johnny Eames's and the Rev. Crawley's ordeals (see, for example, the frontispiece, 'Waiting Room at the Assize Court' and 'How dare you mention my daughters?', facing p. 113).

The pictures of men insist on the heroism or difficulty involved in a male's coming to terms with the hard demands, limitations and natural longings and humiliations of life -- the obstacles put in his way by the passions and ambitions of other men or women who are more powerful than him. Trollope males are also depicted as unhappy as any Trollope female at their inability to marry someone they love (for example, Johnny Eames in The Small House, 'She has refused me and it is all over', facing p. 518). The sequence of illustrations for Orley Farm are famous for the pictures of Lady Mason, and the plot of Ralph the Heir for a saturnine depiction of a contemporary election campaign, but the illustrations for both novels show us the novels may also be read as the stories of two young sons, Lucius and Ralph, neither of them legitimate heirs, both studious and sensitive gentlemen powerless to prevent exile from property or home. Stone's most moving illustrations for He Knew He Was Right depict a man who reaches out for affection again and again and is rebuffed, tormented and finally shattered. One of the greatest and best known of all illustrations of Trollope's novels is by Lionel G. Fawkes for The Way We Live Now. It is of Auguste Melmotte at the bottom of a marble staircase, marble columns on either side of him, with his legs apart and stomach arched outwards, one hand in his pocket, the other outstretched and holding a cigar. Fawkes has shown us Trollope's Melmotte as a hard, vulgar yet nervous man, a Colossus in modern dress defying the universe and his enemies -- just before he is humiliated in Parliament and, badly in debt, commits suicide . . .

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