Published in 1857, Barchester Towers is Anthony Trollope’s sequel to The Warden and almost certainly the most well-known of the author’s Barsetshire series. Ostensibly a portrait of life the clerics in a “cathedral town” the renowned social critique of Trollope couched in humor transform the story into a satire on prevailing moral superiority of the reform movements which seemed to be edging their way into every single established British tradition and convention.
Barchester Towers commences with the death of a longstanding bishop which initiates the first introduction to the potential and possibilities of religious reform that anyone living has ever dealt with. Through the tension created by the conflict between tradition and reform, Trollope unleashes what at the time was considered a distinctly Realist perspective upon the state of England roughly midway through the Victorian Age. What is perhaps the single most interesting thing about Barchester Towers today is that the very same story and language construction to tell it which was praised for its realism in the 1850’s is today universally seen through an ironic lens that casts the novel as a Trollope’s supreme comic masterpiece.