The Warden

Once, a long time ago now, I discovered a BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollop’s The Warden and Barchester Towers, called The Barchester Chronicles. It had Nigel Hawthorne in it as Archdeacon Grantly, which is more than enough reason for me to watch something. It also had Alan Rickman and Geraldine McEwan.

I watched it with my sister, and we found the whole thing utterly hilarious. It might have been the vast quantities of sugar we were consuming as a later re-watch was less amusing.

This last week, I have finally been reading The Warden, the first of Trollop’s Chronicles of Barsetshire. It concerns meek Septimus Harding, warden of Hiram’s Hospital, an almshouse for a dozen elderly men attached to Barchester Cathedral and supported by a mediaeval charitable bequest, as he comes under fire from zealous reformers declaring that he is drawing too large an income from his position and thus depriving the twelve men of what is rightfully theirs.

The particular zealous reformer spear-heading the campaign against Mr. Harding is also romantically attached to the warden’s younger daughter, although no promises have been made at the outset of the novel, though Mr. Harding looks with favour on the match. And the Bishop of Barchester leaves the Church’s defence in the capable hands of his son, and the warden’s son-in-law, Archdeacon Grantly, who is incensed at the though that the reformer John Bold might be his brother-in-law. Such an idea!

I am very much inclined to look out this TV series again.

One thing which struck me as I was reading The Warden is that Trollop very definitely is not a writer who “shows”. He very clearly “tells” almost everything. I haven’t found that it detracts from his story-telling.




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