Saturday, 23 June 2012

The works of Theodosia Garrow Trollope

Further to the previous post about Villino Trollope and its occupants,the works of Theodosia Garrow Trollope may be of interest. The entry from Dictionary of National Biography indicates the major sources:
TROLLOPE, THEODOSIA (1825–1865), authoress, born in 1825, was the only daughter of Joseph Garrow (d. 1855), by his wife the daughter of Jewish parents, and the widow of a naval officer named Fisher. Her father was a grand-nephew of Sir William Garrow [q. v.], and a son of an Indian officer who had married a high-caste Brahmine. From her mother she inherited skill as a musician, and she became an excellent linguist. By Landor's encouragement she became a contributor to Lady Blessington's annual, entitled ‘The Book of Beauty,’ and later she wrote for Dickens's ‘Household Words,’ and for the ‘Athenæum’ and other papers. The delicate state of her health prevented any extended literary toil, but she translated some of Dall' Ongaro's patriotic poems, and in 1846 produced a skilful metrical translation of Giovanni Battista Niccolini's ‘Arnaldo da Brescia.’ On 3 April 1848, at the British legation in Florence, she married Thomas Adolphus Trollope [q. v.], and as his wife she created at the Villino Trollope one of the best known salons in Italy. In 1861 some twenty-seven of her papers to the ‘Athenæum’ were reprinted as ‘Social Aspects of the Italian Revolution;’ at the time of their appearance these letters were thought to have rendered good service to the cause of Italian freedom. In the same year she contributed to the ‘Victoria Regia’ (‘A Mediterranean Bathing-place,’ Leghorn), and in 1864 she commenced a series of essays upon the Italian poets for the ‘Cornhill Magazine.’ She died at Florence on 13 April 1865, leaving one daughter, Beatrice. She was buried in the English cemetery at Florence.
[Gent. Mag. 1865, i. 670; Athenæum, 1865, i. 555; Atlantic Monthly, December 1864; authorities cited under art. Trollope, Thomas Augustus.]

- Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 57, Theodosia Trollope, by Thomas Seccombe
Theodosia Garrow showed her writing talents from girlhood, writing ambitious poems at 13, when Walter Savage Landor called her the "new Sappho" and predicting that she would eclipse the fame of other poets.

Unworthy are these poems of the lights
That now run over them, nor brief the doubt
In my own breast if such should interrupt
(Or follow so irreverently) the voice
Of Attic men, of women such as thou,
Of sages no less sage than heretofore,
Of pleaders no less eloquent, of souls
Tender no less, or tuneful, or devout.
Unvalued, even by myself, are they,--
Myself, who reared them; but a high command
Marshalled them in their station; here they are;
Look round; see what supports these parasites.
Stinted in growth and destitute of odor,
They grow where young Ternissa held her guide,
Where Solon awed the ruler; there they grow,
Weak as they are, on cliffs that few can climb.
None to thy steps are inaccessible,
Theodosia! wakening Italy with song
Deeper than Filicaia's, or than his,
The triple deity of plastic art.
Mindful of Italy and thee, fair maid!
I lay this sear, frail garland at thy feet.
True estimation or not, this networking led her to a correspondence with the Countess of Blessington, who was then editor of a popular annual of poetry and fiction, Heath's Book of Beauty, and the publication of her poems The Gazelles and On Presenting a Young Invalid with a Bunch of Early Violets (both 1839, when she was 14), Song of the Winter Spirits (1841), and On a Portrait of Her Majesty (1842). A similar annual, The Keepsake, published more of her early poems: Imagine's Reward: A Legend of the Rhine (1841), The Doom of Cheynholme (1842), and The Lady of Ashynn (1843) and Lethe Draught (1847). Critical commentary on these early poems was very favourable - see UK Red - and to the effect that it was the best content of a couple of journals that critics otherwise viewed as collective aristocratic vanity anthologies (see the bitchy summary, A Batch of Annuals, in The Spectator, Nov 21, 1840).

Theodosia Garrow seems to have been interested in the Italian language and Italy from an early age, but as she got into her 20s, that interest took an increasingly political spin. In 1846, she contributed to The Keepsake a polemical poem called She is not Dead, but Sleepeth that argued for the unification of Italy, and in the same year had published Arnold of Brescia: A Tragedy, her translation of Giovanni Battista Niccolini's 1846 epic about Arnold of Brescia, a 12th century cleric who failed in an uprising to break from the Papacy to form a Roman republic. Her 1847 The English Heart to the Roman Pontiff (in the short-lived ex-pat periodical Tuscan Athenaeum) is in the same vein, praising Pope Pius IX for his then progressive stance.

Her hoped-for revolution actually came in 1859 - the external and internal wars of 1859-1861 that led to the establishment of Victor Emmanuel II as king of a united Italy. She described its progress in her letters to the London Athenaeum - see pages 86-88, Beyond the Traveller's Gaze: Expatriate Ladies Writing in Sicily (1848-1910) for an account of their general style and context. The letters were collected as The Social Aspects of the Italian Revolution, in a Series of Letters from Florence: With a Sketch of Subsequent Events up to the Present Time (Theodosia Trollope, London, Chapman and Hall, 1861 - Internet Archive socialaspectsit00trolgoog).

Various obituaries mention other works, of which I've tracked down some. The Cornhill Magazine series appears to be the uncredited essays under the banner Contemporary Italian Poets: No 1 Giovanni Prati, No. 2. — Giuseppe Giusti (I haven't found No. 3). She's also reported as having written for Charles Dickens's Household Words and "papers on home topics" for All the Year Round. For instance, Kate Field's Atlantic Monthly article English Authors in Florence refers to an "exceedingly charming" poem - "Baby Beatrice, a poem inscribed to her own fairy child, that appeared several years ago in Household Words". It's uncredited, but the description fits Baby Beatrice, pp378-379, Household Words, Volume 31, 1855. This, and A Mediterranean Bathing-Place (1861) a nice piece of travelogue about "Leghorn" (Livorno) in the arts magazine Victoria Regia, show her work wasn't all politics. She also wrote a series, Notes on the most recent productions of Florentine sculptors, for The Art-Journal: see No I, No II (Hiram Powers) and No IV (Romanelli).

Thomas Trollope's 1887 autobiography What I Remember (Internet Archive whatiremembervo00trolgoog) devotes a chapter to her - see Chapter XVIII - with a few of her poems. There's also an extended analysis of her poetry and its relation to her political and social stance in Alison Chapman's 2003 essay collection Victorian Women Poets, particularly the chapter The Expatriate Poetess: Nationhood, Poetics and Politics.

To conclude: a bibliographic puzzle. As I mentioned previously, Theodosia Garrow was born in Torquay, and in the course of researching this post, I found this:
... last year All the Year Round contained a few chapters — reminiscences of her own early days passed in Devonshire.
- obituary, page 191, The Art-Journal,Volume 27, 1865
This sounded interesting. But All the Year Round is fully accessible online - see Archive - and unless the details are so unspecific that they're not recognisable, I can find no such articles.

- Ray

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