- Doctor Thorne
First edition title page.
Author(s) Anthony Trollope Language English Series Chronicles of Barsetshire Publication date 1858 Media type ISBN NA Preceded by Barchester Towers Followed by Framley Parsonage
It is mainly concerned with the romantic problems of Mary Thorne, niece of Doctor Thomas Thorne (a member of a junior branch of the family of Mr Wilfred Thorne, who appeared in Barchester Towers), and Frank Gresham, the only son of the local squire, although Trollope as the omniscient narrator assures the reader at the beginning that the hero is really the doctor.
Major themes of the book are the social pain and exclusion caused by illegitimacy, the nefarious effects of the demon drink, and the difficulties of romantic attachments outside one's social class. The novel also gives a vivid picture of electioneering and all the just-legal shenanigans that accompany the event. Most of the action takes place in a village of Barsetshire and a country house not far off.
The idea of the plot was suggested to Trollope by his brother Thomas.
When their father dies, Doctor Thomas Thorne and his younger, ne'er-do-well brother Henry are left to fend for themselves. Doctor Thorne begins to establish a medical practice, while Henry seduces Mary Scatcherd, the sister of stonemason Roger Scatcherd. When Scatcherd finds out that Mary has become pregnant, he seeks out Henry and, in the ensuing fight, kills him.
While her brother is in prison, Mary gives birth to a girl. A former suitor offers to marry her and emigrate to start a new life, but refuses to take the baby. Doctor Thorne persuades her to accept the generous offer, promising to raise his niece. He names her Mary Thorne but, wishing neither to have her illegitimacy made public nor to have her associate with the uncouth Roger Scatcherd, he keeps her birth secret. He tells Scatcherd that the baby had died.
After his release, Scatcherd rises quickly in the world. In time, his skills make him extremely rich. When he completes a seemingly-impossible important project on time, he is created a baronet for his efforts. Throughout his career, he entrusts his financial affairs to Doctor Thorne. When Thorne becomes the family doctor to the Greshams, he persuades Scatcherd to loan ever growing sums to the head of the family, the local squire. Eventually, much of the Gresham estate is put up as collateral.
Meanwhile, Mary grows up with the Gresham children and becomes a great favorite with the whole family. As a result, Thorne feels obliged to tell his friend the squire her secret.
Mary falls in love with Frank Gresham, the son and heir of the squire of Greshamsbury and nephew of the Earl and Countess De Courcy, and he with her. However, his parents desperately need him to marry wealth, in order to rescue them from the financial distress resulting from the squire's expensive and fruitless campaigns for a seat in Parliament.
His snobbish mother and aunt wish him to marry an eccentric, if kind-hearted older heiress, Martha Dunstable. He reluctantly visits her at Courcy Castle and they become friends. He foolishly and playfully proposes. She demurs, knowing that he does not love her, and he tells her about his love for Mary.
Sir Roger is a drunkard, and Doctor Thorne tries in vain to get him to curtail his drinking. In his will, he stipulates that bulk of his estate go to his odious, dissolute only son Louis Philippe, but leaves Doctor Thorne in control of the inheritance until the heir reaches the age of twenty-five. Should Louis die before then, Scatcherd stipulates that the estate go to his sister Mary's eldest child. Thorne is forced to divulge Mary's history, but Scatcherd leaves the will unchanged.
Sir Roger eventually dies of his excesses, and Sir Louis inherits his vast wealth. The son proves just as much an alcoholic as the father, and his weaker constitution quickly brings him to the same end. After consulting with many lawyers, Doctor Thorne confirms that his Mary is the heiress, richer than even Miss Dunstable.
Unaware of these proceedings, the more-resolute Frank finally persuades his doting father to consent to his marriage to Mary. When all is revealed, everyone is elated, even Frank's mother and Countess De Courcy.
- Anthony Trollope - Comprehensive summaries of all of Trollope's plots and characters as well as information on all things Trollopian.
- Doctor Thorne on Gutenberg Project
The Chronicles of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope Works by Anthony Trollope Single novels
The Macdermots of Ballycloran (1847) · The Kellys and the O'Kellys (1848) · La Vendée: An Historical Romance (1850) · The Three Clerks (1858) · The Bertrams (1859) · Castle Richmond (1860) · Orley Farm (1862) · The Struggles of Brown, Jones & Robinson (1862) · Rachel Ray (1863) · Miss Mackenzie (1865) · The Belton Estate (1866) · The Claverings (1867) · Nina Balatka (1867) · Linda Tressel (1868) · He Knew He Was Right (1869) · The Vicar of Bullhampton (1870) · Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite (1871) · Ralph the Heir (1871) · The Golden Lion of Granpère (1872) · Harry Heathcote of Gangoil (1874) · Lady Anna (1874) · The Way We Live Now (1875) · The American Senator (1877) · Is He Popenjoy? (1878) · John Caldigate (1879) · An Eye for an Eye (1879) · Cousin Henry (1879) · Ayala's Angel (1881) · Doctor Wortle's School (1881) · The Fixed Period (1882) · Kept in the Dark (1882) · Marion Fay (1882) · Mr. Scarborough's Family (1883) · The Landleaguers (1883) · An Old Man's Love (1884)
Chronicles of Barsetshire: The Warden (1855) · Barchester Towers (1857) · Doctor Thorne (1858) · Framley Parsonage (1861) · The Small House at Allington (1864) · The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867)
Palliser novels: Can You Forgive Her? (1865) · Phineas Finn (1869) · The Eustace Diamonds (1873) · Phineas Redux (1874) · The Prime Minister (1876) · The Duke's Children (1880)
Short story collections
Tales of All Countries--1st Series (1861) · Tales of All Countries--2nd Series (1863) · Malachi's Cove (1864) · Lotta Schmidt & Other Stories (1867) · An Editor's Tales (1870) · Christmas at Kirkby Cottage (1870) · Catherine Carmichael (1878) · Why Frau Frohmann Raised Her Prices and other Stories (1882) · The Two Heroines of Plumpington (1882) · Not If I Know It (1882)
The West Indies and the Spanish Main (1859) · North America (1862) · Hunting Sketches (1865) · Travelling Sketches (1866) · Clergymen of the Church of England (1866) · On English Prose Fiction as a Rational Amusement (1869) · The Commentaries of Caesar (1870) · Australia and New Zealand (1873) · New South Wales & Queensland (1874) · South Africa (1878) · How the 'Mastiffs' Went to Iceland (1878) · Iceland (1878) · Thackeray (1879) · Life of Cicero (1880) · Lord Palmerston (1882) · An Autobiography (1883) · London Tradesmen (1927) · The New Zealander (1972)
"Did He Steal It?" (1869) · "The Noble Jilt" (1923)
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