10,000 pages before breakfast

September 19 2013

Trollope got his first job at the Post Office in 1834 and resigned from it in ’67 in order to concentrate on writing and, for a time, on politics. He lived at Waltham Cross from 1859 to ’71.

“It was my practice to be at my table every morning at 5.30 a.m., and it was also my practice to allow myself no mercy. An old groom, whose business it was to call me, and to whom I paid £5 a year extra for the duty, allowed himself no mercy. During all those years at Waltham Cross he was never once late with the coffee which it was his duty to bring me. I do not know that I ought not to feel that I owe more to him than to anyone else for the success I have had. By beginning at that hour I could complete my literary work before I dressed for breakfast.” – Trollope: Autobiography, chap. 15.

He wrote a third of his novels, so 10,000 pages, at Waltham Cross. Did his literary hours change after he left the Post Office? Not in number: he continued to believe that “three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write”.

A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954 (footnote)

2 Responses to “10,000 pages before breakfast”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    Very few writers or composers are nocturnal. Nearly all do their work in the morning.

  2. davidderrick Says:

    I think my calculation is about right. He wrote some stories at Waltham Cross as well, but what he tells us in chapter VII of the Autobiography about his daily word count only makes sense if there were gaps between books. He says that he began The Bertrams the day after finishing Doctor Thorne, but this suggests an exception.


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