Domestic Manners of the Americans / Edition 1

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Frances Trollope, mother of the great Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, wrote more than 40 books in her lifetime, including provocative, landmark novels dealing with important social issues. Today, however, she's best known for her witty, entertaining, and controversial account of American life and culture -- Domestic Manners of the Americans. First published in 1832, this travel classic presents a lively portrait of early-nineteenth-century America as observed by a woman of rare intelligence and keen perception. Mrs. Trollope left no stone unturned, commenting on American dress, food, speech, politics, manners, customs, the landscape, architecture, and more -- often critically, occasionally admiringly, but always with considerable insight and fine literary flair. Of her, Mark Twain observed: "Of all the tourists I like Dame Trollope best, she found a 'civilization' here which you, reader, could not have endured; and which you would not have regarded as a civilization at all. Mrs. Trollope spoke of this civilization in plain terms -- plain and unsugared, but honest and without malice, and without hate." An immediate best-seller on its first publication, the book remains one of the most popular of all American travel accounts.
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Editorial Reviews

Rochelle Gurstein
The best chronicle of the home and domestic life in antebellum America -- and of its municipal buildings, churches, museums, theaters, cities, and towns -- is still Frances Trollope's 1832 Domestic Manners of the Americans. -- Lingua Franca
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781881089131
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/30/1993
  • Series: Century Classic Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents


Entrance of the Mississippi.

New Orleans…Society…Creoles and Quadroons…Voyage up the Mississippi.

Company on board the Steam Boat…Scenery of the Mississippi…Crocodiles…Arrival at Memphis…Nashoba.

Departure from Memphis…Ohio River…Louisville…Cincinnati.

Cincinnati…Forest Farm.

Servants…Society…Evening Parties.

Market…Museum…Phrenological Society…Miss Wright’s Lecture.

Absence of public and private Amusement…Churches and Chapels…Influence of the Clergy…A Revival.

Schools…Climate…Water Melons…Fourth of July…Pigs…Moving Houses.

Removal to the country…Walk in the forest…Equality.


Peasantry, compared to that of England…Early marriages…Charity…Independence and equality…Cottage prayer-meeting.

Theatre…Delicacy…Visit of the President.

American Spring…Public ball…Separation of the sexes.



Departure from Cincinnati…Society on board the Steam-boat…Arrival at Wheeling.

Departure for the Mountains in the Stage…Scenery of the Alleghany…Haggerstown.

Baltimore…Catholic Cathedral…St. Mary’s College.

Voyage to Washington…Capitol…City of Washington…Congress…Indians…Funeral of a Member of Congress.


Small Landed Proprietors…Slavery.

Fruits and Flowers of Maryland and Virginia…Elections.

Journey to Philadelphia…Chesapeak and Delaware Canal…City of Philadelphia.

Washington Square…American Beauty.

Quakers…Presbyterians…Itinerant Methodist Preacher…Market…Influence of females in society.

Return to Stonington…Thunder-storm…Emigrants…Illness…Alexandria.

American Cooking…Evening Parties…Dress…Sleighing…Money-getting Habits…Tax-Gatherer’s Notice…Indian Summer.


Journey to New York…Delaware River…Stage-coach…City of New York…Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies…Public Garden…Churches….Morris Canal Carriages.


Journey to Niagara…Hudson…West Point…Hyde Park…Albany…Yankees…Trenton Falls…Rochester…Genesee Falls…Lockport.

Niagara…Arrival at Forsythes…First sight of the Falls…Goat Island…The Rapids…Buffalo…Lake Erie…Canandaigua…State-coach adventures.

Return to New York…Conclusion.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted June 8, 2010

    A 19th Century Woman's On the Road

    Frances Trollope was, as Mark Twain put it, "handsomely cursed and reviled by this nation." Yet she did no more than tell the truth as she knew it. Dame Trollope came from England in 1827 to make her fortune by opening a department store on the American frontier. She settled in the booming town of Cincinnatti, Ohio, then with a population of 20,000, where she thought a fortune could easily be made. Failing to see the real needs of the settlers she didn't yet know, she didn't make that fortune and was made all but destitute by the experience. Her disparagement of America is thus suspected by many of her critics to have rooted in malice. Such motives are futile to prove, however, and it is sufficient to consider her criticism stems from her reputably refined sensibilities as and Englishwoman, one who observed with some disconcertion the comparatively unbridled ways of Americans. Whatever her prejudice, her scrutiny of life in the new world nonetheless equals that of her exceedingly more favored contemporary from France.

    The reproval she elicits from Americans in part has to do with how her book, Domestic Manners of the Americans, was received in England. Released to the public in March 1832, it auspiciously concurred with debates in the British Parliament over democratic reform, when agitation for a new Reform Bill modelled on American government feverishly gripped the Whigs and the Tories. The Tories, seeking to curb democratic privileges, seized at Trollope's belittlement of American democracy, what she painted as no more than the pretense and propaganda of the economically endowed landower. The Whig supporters of the Reform Bill countered by denouncing her undemocratic cast. Ordinary Britons, meanwhile, were eating her book up for its lurid account of American life. Mrs. Trollope had found her success at last: at the age of fifty-two she became a literary sensation, thereupon setting her course on the writing of travel books and novels. The fact is, Domestic Manners outraged most contemporary American readers because they saw it as irresponsible and unfavorably disposed in its reporting. Still, newspapers all over the country quoted long sections from her book along with reviling commentaries. Today we value her vivid picture of travel and accomodations as much as her opinion on postcolonial American politics and society while keeping in mind that her experiences were not, by and large, fortunate.

    What counts here, however, is the detail with which she embroiders the records of her travel. After leaving Cincinnatti, Mrs. Trollope and her party traveled by stagecoach over the Alleghenies. A harsh journey, Trollope vividly describes it in what may be one of the more surprisingly favorable passages of her entire two-year visit. Commencing at Cumberland, Maryland, in 1808, it was in nine years to stretch some 130 miles across the Alleghenies to Wheeling, Virginia. In 1833 it extended to Columbus, Ohio, and twenty years later to Vandalia, Illinois. Trollope makes this sometimes perilous and turbulent ride sublimely picturesque. Trollope gradually progresses from rancor to rapture, though, of course, always retaining her faculty for precision and minutia and her talent for enunciating what most people only vaguely sense.

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