Anthony Trollope’s Palliser Novels/Chronicles of Barsetshire in Order

Anthony Trollope was a Victorian novelist who wrote 47 novels, 42 short stories, several travel books and non-fiction books. He was a prolific author, best known today for two of his series, set in the same universe: Chronicles of Barsetshire and Palliser.

Reading Chronicles of Barsetshire/Palliser Series

Chronicles of Barsetshire and Palliser are both series of six novels written by Anthony Trollope who overlap with each other as both are set in the fiction county Barsetshire. We can then consider that they both form a long series, though you don’t have to read both of them, if you don’t want to. You can choose to read only one series.

In every case, we recommend reading the books in chronological order (the same as the publication order) to avoid any form of spoilers, as later books make references to elements and parts of the story from earlier.

The Chronicles of Barsetshire in Publication Order

These classics of Victorian fiction are set in the fictitious cathedral town of Barchester, and depicts the interactions between the clergy and the aristocracy, as well as the political, romantic, and social manoeuvrings that take place among and between them.

The Warden (1855)
Barchester Towers (1857)
Doctor Thorne (1858)
Framley Parsonage (1860)
The Small House at Allington (1862)
The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867)

The Palliser Series in Publication Order

The Palliser books, previously known as the Parliamentary novels, explore English politics to varied degrees by following the lives of the artistocrat and politician Plantagenet Palliser and his wife Lady Glencora.

Can You Forgive Her? (1864)
Phineas Finn (1869)
The Eustace Diamonds (1873)
Phineas Redux (1874)
The Prime Minister (1876)
The Duke’s Children (1879)

The County Bartsehire and the Palliser family, The Complete Reading

The Warden (1855)
Barchester Towers (1857)
Doctor Thorne (1858)
Framley Parsonage (1860)
The Small House at Allington (1862)
Can You Forgive Her? (1864)
The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867)
Phineas Finn (1869)
The Eustace Diamonds (1873)
Phineas Redux (1874)
The Prime Minister (1876)
The Duke’s Children (1879)

Anthony Trollope in the County Barsethire

Anthony Trollope began his literary career while working for the British Post Office as a civil servant. He is well-known for his rigid schedule of writing for a set number of hours each day, usually in the early morning before going to work. He begins to find success with The Warden, his first book in The Chronicles of Barsetshire…

Finding success with The Chronicles of Barsetshire

Following a visit to Salisbury Cathedral, Trollope conceived the idea for his debut novel in The Chronicles of Barsetshire series, titled The Warden. Published in 1855, the story revolves around Septimus Harding, the benevolent warden of a charitable institution in the fictional county of Barsetshire. Controversy arises when questions surface about the fairness of his income from the institution.

Despite modest profits, the book garnered press attention and introduced Trollope to the novel-reading public. While not initially planning a series, he soon penned Barchester Towers, the second novel set in Barsetshire. This work, like its predecessor, didn’t achieve substantial sales but did contribute to enhancing his reputation. Trollope’s growing renown enabled him to sell the copyright for his third novel, avoiding the wait for future profits.

The popularity of his fourth novel, Framley Parsonage, soared. Initially serialized in the Cornhill Magazine in 1860, the publication was a collaboration with George Murray Smith and edited by William Makepeace Thackeray. Smith’s high payment for the story was well rewarded by its success. By the mid-1860s, Trollope’s novels were significantly boosting his income. After not receiving a promotion at the Post Office, Trollope chose to resign in 1867, having accumulated sufficient savings by then.

The more difficult time of the Palliser Series

It is widely considered that the Palliser series consists of six novels, although Trollope himself doesn’t share that point of view, as he wrote in his autobiography:

To carry out my scheme I have had to spread my picture over so wide a canvas that I cannot expect that any lover of such art should trouble himself to look at it as a whole. Who will read Can You Forgive Her?, Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux, and The Prime Minister consecutively, in order that they may understand the characters of the Duke of Omnium, of Plantagenet Palliser, and of Lady Glencora? Who will ever know that they should be so read?

What about The Eustace Diamonds and The Duke’s Children? The first one is perceived as the least political novel of this series, and can be separated from the rest since it focuses on a new set of characters (Plantagenet Palliser and his wife Lady Glencora remain in the backdrop).

The situation around The Duke’s Children is a little bit more complicated. Trollope wrote it after his autobiography, which easily explained why he would have omitted the title. As he set aside his autobiography for posthumous publication, he did the same with the final Palliser novel, for a different reason: at the time, his writings weren’t selling that well. Trollope’s popularity and critical success had waned in his later years, and The Prime Minister had garnered bad reviews and selling, eroding his not-already stellar reputation.

Charles Dickens Jr., editor of the Victorian periodical All the Year Round accepted to serialize the novel, on the condition that Trollope made some massive cuts. The author was generally opposed to making cuts to his work, but he couldn’t pass on at this stage of his career. He removed sentences, and paragraphs, and changed longer words for shorter ones, in order to reduce the size of his novel. But it was still an edited version of his work.

It would take more than a hundred years, but a restored version of his book has been released in 2015.

Susan Hampshire and Philip Latham in BBC’s The Pallisers

From Pages to Screen: The Adaptations of Chronicles of Barsetshire and the Pallisers

There have been several adaptations of Trollope’s works throughout the years, starting in 1951 with a miniseries The Warden, broadcast live on BBC and never recorded. It was followed a few years later by a 6-episode series of The Last Chronicle of Barset (1959), a 5-part series of The Last Chronicle of Barset (1959), and The Small House at Allington (1960). There is not a lot of information about those adaptations, mostly lost to us to my knowledge.

The Pallisers (1974-1975) – A 26-episode series that aired on BBC Two for almost a year with a large cast including Susan Hampshire, Philip Latham, and Roland Culver. Prior to this adaptation, Trollope’s series was known as ‘the Parliamentary novels’. This popular dramatization of the novels made them known under the new name ‘Palliser’ afterward.

The Barchester Chronicles (1982) – A 7-part adaptation for BBC by Alan Plater of Anthony Trollope’s first two Chronicles of Barsetshire, “The Warden” and “Barchester Towers,” with a cast including Donald Pleasence, Nigel Hawthorne, Angela Pleasence, David Gwillim, Alan Rickman, Geraldine McEwan, Susan Hampshire, and Barbara Flynn.

Doctor Thorne (2016) – A 3-part adaptation for ITV by Julian Fellowes of the third Chronicles of Barsetshire novel with Tom Hollander, Stefanie Martini, Harry Richardson, Ian McShane, Alison Brie, and Rebecca Front. It was not well received.

For more Victorian readings, we invite you to discover where to start with Charles Dickens.