Anthony Trollope is far more widely known for his novels. In fact, he remains one of the most prolific novelists of all time. Before establishing that reputation, however, Trollope had already earned himself a name for publishing short tales of family strife, romantic entanglements and life in the British countryside. Over the course of more than 40 short stories which he published in a variety of literary magazines can be found the themes, motifs, characters and plots which are found in those novels. In addition, Trollope also published story collections as well as leaving a number of shorter sketches and unfinished manuscripts which had never been published.
Although Trollope would continue writing the occasional shorter work later in his career, his life as a writer can effectively be divided into the short story section and the novel section. The turn to novels was a natural outgrowth for Trollope’s prodigious attention to work ethic. The restraint and containment of the shorter form simply proved too constricting for a man driven to explore avenues of realism in British society which could be neither adequately expressed within the short form nor bring the remuneration afforded by novels. Essentially, then, it can be effectively and accurately argued that Trollope’s novels are in a way merely short stories expanded. From a literary point of view, this is not accurate since that would imply the novels are weak expansions of simple stories. In truth, the novels are more akin to many different short stories seamlessly integrated into a whole. The thematic exploration of the stories are transferred intact into the novels with the addition of a wider cast of character and event.
Because Trollope wrote such an astounding number of novels, his short stories are perhaps not as integral to the establishment of his literary reputation as they might have been. Generally speaking, a writer who goes back and forth between the two types of fictional expression tends to have produced far more shorter works than longer ones. The mere fact that this does not apply to Trollope is as insightful an indication as any of the strength of the quality of artistry when working in either form.