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Mr Peacocke, a Classical scholar, has come to Broughtonshire with his beautiful American wife to live as a schoolmaster. But when the blackmailing brother of her first husband a reprobate from Louisiana appears at the school gates, a dreadful secret is revealed and the county is scandalized. Ostracised by the community, the pair seem trapped in a hopeless situation until the combative but warm-hearted headmaster of the school, Dr Wortle, offers his support, and Mr Peacocke embarks upon a journey to America that he hopes will lay to rest the accusations once and for all. A perceptive exploration of Victorian morality, Dr Wortle's School (1881) also contains echoes of Trollope's own life, and his personal affection for the vivacious Bostonian Kate Field.
Anthony Trollope (1815 - 1882) enjoyed considerable acclaim as a novelist during his lifetime, publishing over forty novels and many short stories. The Warden, the first of his novels to achieve success was succeeded by the sequence of 'Barsetshire novels' and the six brilliant Palliser novels. His novels have remained well-loved today. Mick Imlah, formerly Junior Lecturer in English at Magdalen College, Oxford, is a published poet and works at the TLS.