There was a power of endurance about her, and a courage that was almost awful.
Did Lady Mason forge a codicil to her husband's will, allowing Orley Farm to pass to her son or not? Orley Farm centres on this case of forgery, and the anguish and guilt of Lady Mason. Surrounding this enigmatic woman and her apparent crime are her elderly lover, Sir Peregrine Orme; her principled but thoughtless son, Lucius; and, not least, a group of determined lawyers.
Orley Farm contains the plot with which Trollope was most pleased. Drawing on family experience of the loss of an inheritance, the novel tackles the tremendous question of property fraud. The result, as George Orwell observed, is one of the most brilliant novels about a law suit in English fiction. Orley Farm dates from a confident period of its authoras life. It breathes an air of writerly assurance, with Trollope at the height of his competitiveness with Dickens. In
this work Trollope claims the Victorian legal novel as his own.
Francis O'Gorman has edited Anthony Trollope's The Duke's Children, Framley Parsonage, and The Way We Live Now for Oxford World's Classics, as well as John Ruskin's Praeterita and Elizabeth Gaskell's Sylvia's Lovers. He has written widely on English literature, mostly from the nineteenth century, and his recent publications include The Cambridge Companion to John Ruskin (2016), the Twenty-first Century Oxford Authors edition of Algernon Charles Swinburne (2016), and volume 5 of the Oxford Selected Prose of Edward Thomas on Thomas's literary criticism (2017). Francis O'Gorman, who was educated at the University of Oxford, is Saintsbury Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and is currently editing Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone for OUP and writing a book for Bloomsbury called The Limits of Liberalism.