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The Three Clerks

Anthony Trollope

Book Overview: 

The Three Clerks was Trollope’s sixth novel and was written mostly in railway carriages, since his work for the Post Office still entailed a good deal of traveling; to make life easier for himself, Trollope had devised what he called his ‘tablet’, a square block which he rested upon his knees in such a way that he could write in complete comfort. The story is drawn from his memories of his work (as a clerk) at the GPO in St Martin-le-Grand, and it is considered the most autobiographical of Trollope’s novels – a story of the differing fortunes of 3 young men working at “Weights and Measures” and their relationships with a family of 3 sisters.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .had your conscience come, when it could be so silenced!'

'Well, I suppose you can raise a couple of hundred—£205 will cover the whole thing, commission and all; but, mind, I don't advise you to keep them long—I shall take two months' dividends, and then sell.'

'Two hundred and five pounds,' said Tudor, to whom the sum seemed anything but trifling; 'and when must it be paid?'

'Well, I can give Manylodes a cheque for the whole, dated this day week. You'll be back in town before that. We must allow him £5 for the accommodation. I suppose you can pay the money in at my banker's by that day?'

Alaric had some portion of the amount himself, and he knew that Norman had money by him; he felt also a half-drunken conviction that if Norman failed him, Captain Cuttwater would not let him want such a sum; and so he said that he could, and the bargain was completed.

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Community Reviews

In this novel, Trollope begins to indulge in a little bit of what young people nowadays call "meta" - that is, he discusses his own characteristics as a novelist. His device is to have his youngest protagonist be a writer of pulp fiction, whose fictional readers declare he has failed to write a p...more

Trollope begins in his usual way by dedicating one of several initial chapters to establishing his characters and their situation. My first reaction while reading these first half dozen chapters is that this relatively early novel was not going to be as good as his later ones, but this from the i...more

There is so much that is clumsy and overdone in this book but I liked it anyhow. Trollope does a wonderful job of contrasting the joys of a cozy cottage life and the horrors of life as a stock speculator.

Also I particularly enjoyed Charley's dilemma when he is engaged to Norah the Irish barmaid...more

There's no-one like Trollope. If you don't like his characteristic asides to the reader, then give this one a miss - it's full of them.
He has such knowledge and understanding of human nature! "An accident, if it does no material harm, is always an inspiriting thing, unless one feels that it has...more

Trollope draws on his own youth for the character of Charley Tudor, one of the three clerks of the title. Like Trollope, Charley begins his civil service in desultory fashion, falls into the hands of money lenders, and finds himself in danger of begin coerced into what would have been a ruinous m...more

The story focuses on three government clerks who enjoy the company of the Woodward sisters. Alaric steals Gertrude from Harry. Harry ends up marrying Linda. Katie likes Charley, but her mother doesn't. The best thing I can say about I've finished it and can say I've read it. It's just not my kind...more

First sentence: All the English world knows, or knows of, that branch of the Civil Service which is popularly called the Weights and Measures. Every inhabitant of London, and every casual visitor there, has admired the handsome edifice which generally goes by that name, and which stands so consp...more

For my second read of this book, I did appreciate parts of it more than my first read, but it is still my least favourite Trollope novel. The characters seem sterotypical, the flow chunky, and the politics preachy.

Only for the initiated
A lesser work by the classic Victorian novelist, it must be said, although it does show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Set in the mid-1850s, the story revolves about three young in the British civil service. Two are cousins and the other a friend....more

This was my second read for the Trollope bicentennial being celebrated at Books and Chocolate. Of the four books of his that I have now read, this is definitely my least favorite. Coming in at around 550 pages this is one of Trollope’s shorter (HA!) works. The story revolves around three young g...more

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