Mary Shelley meets some other famous women in the late 1820s.
Frances (Fanny) Trollope
The Trollope name surely rings some of recognition’s bells. Anthony Trollope (1815–1882) was one of the Victorian era’s most prolific and popular novelists—he lived to see the publication of forty-five of his forty-seven novels (the first, The Macdermots of Ballycloran, 1847; the last—his unfinished The Landleaguers, published posthumously, incomplete). He also wrote numerous works of nonfiction. I have written elsewhere about my obsession with Anthony Trollope, about reading all forty-seven of his novels over a period of about a decade, about weeping when I read the final words of his final sentence (in dialect) of his final, unfinished novel (“they don't lave a por boy any pace.”).
But it was his mother, Frances “Fanny” Trollope (1779–1863), who had a connection with Mary Shelley and who tried to enlist Mary for a project proposed by Frances “Fanny” Wright, whose story I’ll deal with in a little bit. (Mary actually met this second Fanny first.)
Fanny Trollope, the mother of seven, took to writing later in her life when her husband just couldn’t make a go of his business ventures. And she discovered that she had the gift—she could write quickly; she could write for a popular audience—and it would be her writing that would support her family, including, of course, young Anthony.
When Mary met the two Fannys in the fall of 1828, Anthony Trollope was thirteen years old and had attended, a few years earlier, Harrow School (and would return in January 1831). Mary’s surviving son, Percy Florence Shelley, began attending Harrow in September 1832, so he and Trollope were schoolmates for a bit, though Percy, born on November 12, 1819, was some four and a half years younger than the future novelist. Still, they overlapped at school. And Harrow’s enrollment was not large. They would have crossed paths. And what I would give to know anything about those interactions.