Fiction Ed’s Blog: Anthony Trollope’s Writing Advice

Anthony Trollope, author

April 24 marks the birthday of one of England’s most prolific Victorian authors – Anthony Trollope.

Born in 1815, Anthony overcame the sadness and adversity of his early days to become a successful author and editor.

The secret of his success? He wrote every morning for three hours, before heading off to his day job, and aimed to write 250 words every 15 minutes.

2022 marks the 140th anniversary of Anthony’s passing, and for readers and writers, much of his writing advice remains relevant today.

To celebrate his birthday, I thought it might be nice to share some of his notable quotes.

On Writing

“The habit of writing clearly soon comes to the writer who is a severe critic to himself.”

“Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write.”

“A small daily task, if it really be daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”

“There is no way of writing well and also writing easily.”

“It had at this time become my custom – to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour.”

“My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.”

“Take away from English authors their copyrights, and you would very soon take away also from England her authors.”

“Let an author so tell his tale as to touch his reader’s heart and draw his tears, and he has, so far, done his work well.”

“Of all needs a book has, the chief need is to be readable.”

“Do not fire too much over the heads of your readers.”

“The object of the proprietor is to produce a periodical that shall satisfy the public.”

“The writer of stories must please, or he will be nothing.”

On Reading

“The habit of reading is the only one I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade.”

“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book and a cup of coffee? Was anything ever so civil?”

“That I can read and be happy while I am reading, is a great blessing. Could I have remembered, as some men do, what I read, I should have been able to call myself an educated man.”

Words Of Wisdom

“Poetry is precious chiefly because it suggests more than it declares.” (From “Can You Forgive Her?”)

“No man thinks there is much ado about nothing, when the ado is about himself.” (From “The Bertrams”.)

“Whatever the misery to be endured, get it over. The horror of every agony is in its anticipation.” (From “The Way We Live Now”)


Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!