‘From the day I set foot in Ireland, all these evils went away from me.’ - An Autobiography
By 1841 Trollope had been working in the same room in the General Post Office for seven years. With no chance of his career advancing in London, he applied for a job as a surveyor’s clerk in Ireland, and got the job. Colonel Mabeley, glad to get rid of him gave him the post, and then sent a very bad reference after him.
Once in Ireland Trollope did increasingly well, the troubles of his youth and his early career in London seemed to fall away. He began as Surveryor’s Clerk in the Central District of Ireland on 19 September 1841, and in 1844 became the Assistant Surveyor in the Southern District. Also in 1844 he married Rose Heseltine, the daughter of a bank manager in Rotherham. (Who was later discovered by the bank to be less than entirely honest). They had two sons, Henry Merivale and Frederick James Anthony.
It was whilst in Ireland that Trollope began writing. The first of his novels, The Macdermots of Ballycloran was finished in March 1845. His mother, whilst not reading it, did send it to her publishers, who accepted it. so Trollope began his career as an author. The Macdermots of Ballycloran was published in 1847, the same year as the publication of Vanity Fair, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Trollope wrote two more novels, The Kellys and the O’Kellys and La Vendée whilst in Ireland, neither of them making money for either him or his publisher.
Trollope soon won a reputation for energy and effectiveness in Ireland, which came to the attention of Rowland Hill, Secretary to the Postmaster General and inventor of the Penny Post in 1840, an idea which Colonel Maberley, Trollope’s old boss in London, had thought ridiculous. Trollope was seconded to reorganise the rural posts in south-west England. It was in the course of this work that Trollope visited Salisbury in 1852 and he tells, ‘whilst wandering there one midsummer evening, I conceived the story of The Warden from whence came that series of novels of which Barchester was the central site.’
At was at this time that Trollope developed the working habits that which he kept to for most of the rest of his life. To make the best use of the time he spent on train journeys for the post office, he had a portable desk made, and wrote as he travelled. At home he rose at 5.30 and wrote for three hours, 250 words every fifteen minutes. To record his progress he kept a diary recording the number of pages written each day. Keeping to this regime, Trollope went on to produce an amazing output of 47 novels.
That Trollope loved his work at the Post Office, is evident in his novels. He writes of not only the writing and sending of letters, but also revels in the detail of how the post in his imaginary county, Barsetshire, is conveyed.
And now, with my reader's consent, I will follow the postman with that letter to Framley; not by its own circuitous route indeed, or by the same mode of conveyance; for that letter went into Barchester by the Courcy night mail-cart, which, on its road, passed through the villages of Uffey and Chaldicotes, reaching Barchester in time for the up-mail from London. By that train, the letter was sent towards the metropolis as far as the junction of the Barset branch line, but there it was turned in its course, and came down again by the main line as far as Silverbridge; at which place, between six and seven in the morning, it was shouldered by the Framley footpost messenger, and in due course delivered at the Framley Parsonage exactly as Mrs Robarts had finished reading prayers to the four servants. Or, I should say rather, that such would in its usual course have been that letter's destiny. As it was, however, it reached Silverbridge on Sunday, and lay there till the Monday, as the Framley people have declined their Sunday post. And then again, when the letter was delivered at the parsonage, on that wet Monday morning, Mrs Robarts was not at home. – Framley Parsonage