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Staff Book Group – November 2016

download-72In Domestic Manners of the Americans, Frances Trollope recounts her travels through America between 1827 and 1830, describing her voyage up the Mississippi from New Orleans, a two-year stay in Cincinnati, and a subsequent tour of Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. A transatlantic best-seller on publication in 1832, its forthright criticisms of American manners encompassed spitting, religious extremism, ladies’ dress, the relentless pursuit of money, and the unequal treatment of women, slaves, and Native Americans. Witty, satiric, and hugely entertaining, Trollope also had a serious purpose in warning her compatriots of the consequences of democratic freedoms at a time of great social change in England. Deploring slavery and the hypocrisy that sanctioned it, she fuelled abolitionist debate on both sides of the Atlantic and so impressed Mark Twain that fifty years later he considered her book to be the most accurate portrait of American life in the nineteenth century.