Rachel Ray andThe Belton Estate
John Everett Millais, "What Rachel Thought"
In September of the year 1998 a group of us on Trollope-l read as a pair Rachel Ray
(1863) and The Belton Estate (1865). We thought of them as a pair because
they were about the same size (30 to 32 chapters divided into 2 volumes), came from the same
period of Trollope's career (mid-1860s), and (so we thought) were primarily love stories. Many of
us had been on Ms Thompson's list and still remembered reading The Claverings
(1864) and Lady Anna (1871) as a pair: although spread apart in time, they too were
two volume novels, and (so we again thought) primarily domestic romance. I have told the story
of that group read in my book, Trollope on
the Net. I bring it up here since although contemporary Victorian reviewers had
paired Lady Anna with George Eliot's Felix Holt, the Radical (1866) as
radical books which questioned the social order, we had discovered that although Lady
Anna was subversive of the social hierarchy, it was otherwise wholly unlike George Eliot's
novel. In this read we discovered the book which was like Felix Holt was
Rachel Ray: Rachel Ray had a signficant political subplot and criticism
of reactionary religious fundamentalism. The Belton Estate delved female sexuality
unusually frankly and recalled Trollope's short story, "The Parson's Daughter at Oxney Colne"
This was the first read we had where I deliberately wrote a facilitating essay each week of the
read. Hitherto I had relied on spontaneity in myself or others to start us off. Trollope-l was a
relatively new list in those days and we had only a small group of contributors; however, the
discussion was lively and I rejoice to put it on the Net as both John Mize and Marcella McCarthy have since left Trollope-l and they
are missed. Contributors included: Sigmund Eisner, Thilde Fox, Lisa Guardini, Bart Hansen, R. J. Keefe, Kishor Kale, Penny Klein, John Letts, Anne Long, Marcella MacCarthy, Pat Maroney, John
Mize, Judith Moore, Duffy Pratt, Jill Spriggs, Joan Wall, John Woolley.
Rachel Ray was not serialised. Trollope wrote it between 3 March and 29 June
of 1863, after signing a contract with the Rev Norman MacCleod, editor of the religious and
conservative periodical, Good Words but when the Rev Norman MacCleod read it,
he decided it would upset his readership very much. I tell the story of this in the "Introduction"
below. Thus Rachel Ray was first published as a two-volume book in October of
that year by Chapman and Hall, with the frontispiece a reproductoin of a watercolor painting by
John Everett Millais.
- Introduction: Looking Ahead; P. Edwards's Essays: A George Eliot-like Book; The Reverend Norman
MacCleod's Objections; Its Likeness to Margaret Oliphant's Hester; The Editions;
The Watercolour By Millais.
- Chapters 1-5: A Provincial Fractured Pastoral; The Women; Rachel Ray As Fairy Tale.
- Chapters 6-10: We Go To a Ball; Religious Hypocrisy; Hard-Ball Negotiations; Meant for Good
Words: Trollope's Spirit of Mischief & A Book for Millais to Illustrate; Rachel
Ray, Miss Mackenzie & The Belton Estate: 3 of a kind;
Rachel Ray and a Few of Trollope's Erotic Short Stories; Rachel Ray
and Jane Eyre: Trollope and Charlotte Bronte; Ideal Women; Shandy; Luke Rowan
and Mr Tappitt; Luke Rowan: Very Real.
- Chapters 11-15: Liking Luke Rowan; Luke Rowan & Imagined Happiness; Mr Tappitt: Complete Mediocrity;
- Chapters 16-20: Wonderful Love Story and Moral Lessons; Indispensable Meddlers: Mrs Buttered Cornbread
and Lady Glencora Palliser; Adding to the Chorus of Praise; Complaints and Fascination;
Xenophobia?; Rachel Ray and The Vicar of Bullhampton;
Unpleasantness; em>Rachel Ray: As Another of Several Studies of Provincial Life;
Antisemitism in Trollope; Trollope and the Radicals.
- Chapters 21-25: Beautifully Woven; A Macdermots in the Making?; The Continual Little Asides;
Trollope and Class; The Politics; Dorothea Prime & Religious Fundamentalism; Blessed are the
Pure; Bawdy: Prong and Prime; Mrs Prime and Mr Prong.
- Chapters 26-30: Eroticism in Rachel Raye; Closure; Is it Something in His Tone?; A Single Letter;
Rachel Ray and Felix Holt, Radical; Eliot and Trollope; Dancing and the
The Belton Estate
The Belton Estate was begun on the 30rd of January and finished the 4th of
September in 1865. It was, like Lady Anna, serialised in the
Fortnightly Review, a publication intendedly progressive in politics and enlightened
in its attitudes towards social relationships and the new modern sciences. As in Nina
Balatka, a novella published anonymously in 1865, The Belton Estate
embodies some of G. H. Lewes's ideals of realism. The goal of the The Fortnightly
(which came out once a month) was to become an English Revue des Deux
Mondes. Its policy against anonymity was an ideal Trollope shared: its texts were signed.
It was serialised between 15 May 1865 and 1 January 1866, and then published as a book in
December of 1865 by Chapman and Hall.
- Introduction: Our Concise Calendar and Some Editions; The Belton Estate: A Fortnightly
- Chapters 1-6: Somber Opening; Déjà Vue; Will as Deus Ex Machina; Will and Clara; The Belton
Estate and Pride and Prejudice: Will Belton and Mr Collins; The Belton
Estate and "The Parson's Daughter of Oxney Colne".
- Chapters 7-11: Trollope's Unconventionality; A Personal Turning Point: When I Became a Trollopian; Sexual
Enthrallment, the Animus; Trollope and Foster: Opposing Kinds of Heroes in
The Belton Estate and A Room with a View; Will as Hero; Trollope's
Even-Handedness; Intentionality; Beyond the Status Markers; Clara's Passionate Nature.
- Chapters 12-17: The Belton Estate and Victoria Glendinning's Ur-Story; The Belton
Estate and Two Intersecting Ur-Stories; Patterns in the Carpet; Captain Aylmer's Letter;
Close Reading, Proust, Trollope, and the Dynamics of Public Cyberspace.
- Chapters 18-21: Rachel Ray and The Belton Estate: Mothers and Middle Class
Respectablity; Sad & Bitter/Sweet Comedy & Hard; The Belton Estate: Believable
or Unrealistic?; The Author's Stance: Belton Estate and Felix Holt .
- Chapters 22-26: A Fairy Tale; Climax and Turning Point; The Belton Estate and Jane Austen's
The Watsons; The Letters; Henry James on Trollope and The Belton
- Chapters 27-32: The Bunces; Finis; On James and Trollope; The Belton Estate and Rachel
Ray Compared; Back to Clara and Will; Layed Novels: The Belton Estate
and other of Trollope's Domestic Romances; Final General Thoughts; On Will's View of Mrs
Askerton; The Complexity of Trollope's Romances: The Belton Estate and What is
Contact Ellen Moody.
Page Last Updated 11 January 2003