Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope is a novel by English author Anthony Trollope published by Longmans in 1857. It is the second book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire series, preceded by The Warden and followed by Doctor Thorne. Among other things it satirises the antipathy in the Church of England between High Church and Evangelical adherents. Trollope began writing this book in 1855.
He wrote constantly and made himself a writing-desk so he could continue writing while travelling by train. "Pray know that when a man begins writing a book he never gives over", he wrote in a letter during this period. "The evil with which he is beset is as inveterate as drinking – as exciting as gambling".
In his autobiography, Trollope observed "In the writing of Barchester Towers I took great delight. The bishop and Mrs. Proudie were very real to me, as were also the troubles of the archdeacon and the loves of Mr. Slope". When he submitted his finished work, his publisher, William Longman, initially turned it down, finding much of it to be full of "vulgarity and exaggeration". Recent critics offer a more sanguine opinion: "Barchester Towers is many readers' favourite Trollope", wrote The Guardian, which included it in its list of "1000 novels everyone must read".
Barchester Towers concerns the leading clergy of the cathedral city of Barchester. The much loved bishop having died, all expectations are that his son, Archdeacon Grantly, will succeed him. Owing to the passage of the power of patronage to a new Prime Minister, a newcomer, the far more Evangelical Bishop Proudie, gains the see. His wife, Mrs Proudie, exercises an undue influence over the new bishop, making herself as well as the bishop unpopular with most of the clergy of the diocese.
Her interference to veto the reappointment of the universally popular Mr Septimus Harding (protagonist of Trollope's earlier novel, The Warden) as warden of Hiram's Hospital is not well received, even though she gives the position to a needy clergyman, Mr Quiverful, with 14 children to support.