'it appeared to me that the greatest and best feelings of the human heart were paralyzed by the relative positions of slave and owner'
In Domestic Manners of the Americans Frances Trollope recounts her travels through America between 1827 and 1830, describing her voyage up the Mississippi from New Orleans, a two-year stay in Cincinnati, and a subsequent tour of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. A transatlantic best-seller on publication in 1832, its forthright criticisms of American manners encompassed spitting, religious extremism, ladies' dress, the relentless pursuit of money, and the unequal treatment of women, slaves, and Native Americans. Witty, satiric, and hugely entertaining, Trollope also had a serious purpose in warning her compatriots of the consequences of democratic freedoms at a time of great social change in England. Deploring slavery and the hypocrisy that sanctioned it, she fuelled abolitionist debate on both sides of the Atlantic and so impressed Mark Twain that fifty years later he considered her book to be the most accurate portrait of American life in the nineteenth century.
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Frances Trollope (1780-1863) wrote her first book, Domestic Manners, at the age of 53 and went on to write over forty more after its phenomenal success. She travelled to America to assist in the founding of a utopian community in the face of financial ruin in England, and after several failed business ventures began to gather material for her travel book. She supported six children after the death of her husband, one of whom, Anthony Trollope, followed her into writing.
Elsie B. Michie is Professor of English at Louisiana State University. Her books include Outside the Pale: Cultural Exclusion, Gender Difference, and the Victorian Woman Writer (1993) and The Vulgar Question of Money: Heiresses, Materialism, and the Novel of Manners from Jane Austen to Henry James (2011). She has edited a Frances Trollope novel, The Lottery of Marriage (2011), complied the Oxford On-Line Bibliography for Frances Trollope, and published essays on Trollope in Partial Answers and Women's Writing.
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