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In 1832, three years before Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America, the English novelist Frances Trollope released Domestic Manners of the Americans, an eye-opening record of her travels in the young republic. Expecting a Utopia of "justice and liberty for all," she is shocked to discover the contradictions at the heart of the American character, especially when it comes to their treatment of slaves and Native Americans: "You will see them with one hand hoisting the cap of liberty," Trollope writes, "and with the other flogging their slaves. You will see them one hour lecturing their mob on the indefeasible rights of man, and the next driving from their homes the children of the soil, whom they have bound themselves to protect by the most solemn treaties."
Trollope's biting critique became an international sensation, hailed for its fearlessness and humor and decried for its slanderous audacity. (Her critics derogatorily called her Fanny Trollope.) Yet, as Mark Twain remarked, "She was merely telling the truth and this indignant nation knew it." Today, Domestic Manners of the Americans remains a prophetic diagnosis of American thought and culture, and a masterpiece of nineteenth-century travel writing. Now published as an ebook with an introduction by acclaimed travel author Sara Wheeler, this classic work offers modern American readers a fascinating re-introduction to themselves.
Praise for Domestic Manners of the Americans
"I am convinced that there is no writer who has so well and so accurately (I need not add entertainingly) described America"--Charles Dickens
"One of the great pioneer exercises in transatlantic disparagement; its influence lasted deep into the later 19th century"--Independent
"[Trollope] was merely telling the truth and this indignant nation knew it. She was painting a state of things which did not disappear at once. It lasted to well along in my youth, and I remember it."--Mark Twain
"Ever since its publication, Americans have loved to hate Domestic Manners of the Americans. It is still quoted by American journalists, precisely because the book remains as perceptive--and funny--as ever"--Sunday Times
"This remarkable woman became one of the most prolific and popular female writers of the century... She was consistently original"--Sunday Times
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About the Author
Frances Milton Trollope (1779 – 1863) was an English novelist and writer whose first book, Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832), caused an international sensation upon its publication. Trollope’s more than 100 books include strong social novels, including an the first anti-slavery novel, Jonathan Jefferson Whitlaw (1836), which influenced Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe; the first industrial novel, Michael Armstrong: Factory Boy; and The Vicar of Wrexhill, which took on the corruption of the church of England; as well as two anti-Catholic novels, The Abbess and Father Eustace. Between 1839 and 1855, Trollope published her Widow Barnaby trilogy of novels, and her other travel books include Belgium and Western Germany in 1833, Paris and the Parisians in 1835, and Vienna and the Austrians. Her first and third sons, Thomas Adolphus and Anthony, also became writers; Anthony Trollope was influenced by his mother's work and became renowned for his social novels.
Sara Wheeler is the author of many books of biography and travel, including Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990–2011 and Travels in a Thin Country: A Journey Through Chile. Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica was an international bestseller that The New York Times described as “gripping, emotional” and “compelling,” and The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle was chosen as Book of the Year by Michael Palin and Will Self, among others. Her most recent book is O My America!: Six Women and Their Second Acts in a New World. Wheeler lives in London.