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Mary Gresley and an Editor's Tales

Anthony Trollope

Book Overview: 

These 'tales' describe a series of encounters between various magazine editors and those who wish to have their works published. While containing some amusing bits, the tales are relatively grim, compared to most Trollope stories.

The Turkish Bath: This editor, visiting a Turkish bath, is accosted by an Irish stranger, who, after some conversation, requests to submit a manuscript to the magazine. The editor's reactions to the solicitation and subsequent familiarity with the writer's circumstances forms the frame of the story. Humor arises about the Turkish bathing situation, and the reluctance of editors to make themselves available to amateur writers.

Mary Gresley is the rather sad tale of a young girl's giving up her writing career to satisfy the deathbed wish of the curate she was engaged to. The editor, in this tale (and also in the next), became rather involved emotionally with the girl and wished her to continue writing.

Josephine de Montmorenci is actually the proposed pen name of a disabled young lady, who only became acquainted with the editor because her attractive sister in law initiallly pretended to be that author.

The Panjandrum (meaning 'appearing to be important') is a magazine proposed by a group of literate but incompatible, inexperienced, would-be writers. The clash of personalities brings about the demise of the venture.

The Spotted Dog offers another writer, down on his luck; he and his wife drink excessively. He had been well educated and the editor offers him the task of indexing the work of a third person, but his drunken wife destroys the manuscript.

Mrs. Brumby is the most amusing of the tales. In this one the editor encounters a poor writer who is, unfortunately for him also a remarkably aggressive and ambitious woman.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .We have tried this; but as the turban gets over our eyes, and then falls altogether off our brow, we have abandoned it. In regard to personal deportment, depending partly on the step, somewhat on the eye, but chiefly on the costume, it must be acknowledged that “the attempt and not the deed confounds us.” It is not every man who can carry a blue towel as a turban, and look like an Arab in the streets of Cairo, as he walks slowly down the room in Jermyn Street with his arms crossed on his naked breast. The attempt and not the deed does confound one shockingly. We,{55} therefore, recommend that the second towel should be trailed. The effect is good, and there is no difficulty in the trailing which may not be overcome.

We had trailed our way into the bath-room, and had slowly walked to one of those arm-chairs in which it is our custom on such occasions to seat ourselves and to await sudation. There are marble couches; and if a man be able to lie on ston. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The theme of these six short stories, which draw on Trollope's three years directing St. Paul's Magazine, is that an editor can find himself drawn, against his wiser intentions, into delicate human relationships with struggling writers whose work is unpublishable as it stands. Using an all-purpose,

The short story isn’t Trollope’s forte, but he was right that The Spotted Dog—really a novella-is the highlight here.

Wonderful, whimsical short stories. Trollope is always long on characterization, warmth, and charm. Sadly, quite dated in his attitude towards women (but how could a Victorian writer not be?). Highly recommended, as is everything Trollope wrote.