“This Little Queen’s Head Can’t Be Untrue”: Trollope’s Postal Infidelities

Kate Thomas

in Postal Pleasures

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730919
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918461 | DOI:
“This Little Queen’s Head Can’t Be Untrue”: Trollope’s Postal Infidelities

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Anthony Trollope wrote twenty-one of his forty-seven novels while simultaneously holding down a full-time appointment in the General Post Office. He also invented the pillar-box. For Trollope, and many of his reviewers, there was a constitutive relation between his being a novelist and being a postal inspector. This chapter explores how postal work made Trollope vulnerable to charges that as a novelist he was effeminate and promiscuous. Analysis of Trollope’s own descriptions of his Post Office work in his Autobiography shows that he allied his postal service with textual agility and sexual mobility. His portrayal of himself as a "beneficent angel" reflects his understanding that facilitating the circulation of post-letters could counter stagnant and painfully differentiating social structures. The chapter centres on Trollope’s "raciest" novel – John Caldigate (1879), which has a bigamy plot and a postman hero. The chapter highlights the Victorian concern with breach of promise cases.

Keywords: post office; sex; scandal; bigamy; queer; anthony trollope; john caldigate; trial; literature; victorian

Chapter.  16379 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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