The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson

Anthony Trollope (1815 - 1882)

Billed as a satire concerning the dishonest advertising and business practices of the day, it tells the tale of an upstart clothing business doomed from the get-go to utter failure. Its senior partner (the elderly Brown, who provides the investment) is far too timid for business. His son-in-law (Jones, who runs the store) is stealing from the till, and the junior partner, Robinson (who writes advertisements for the store) is so obsessed with the idea that advertising alone will drive the business, he uses up every last penny of the capital investment in a series of increasingly ludicrous ad campaigns and publicity stunts.

Thrown into this mix are the two daughters of Brown, who are equally cold and calculating. The elder (married to Jones) is constantly trying to wring money out of the old man, and the younger, Maryanne, spends the entire novel playing off of two potential suitors, Robinson, or Brisket the butcher (one of Trollope's wonderful examples of ironic character naming). (above summary by Steve Forsyth, Texas)

Nevertheless, Trollope shows considerable sympathy for the risks faced by small businessmen (and also notes the vulnerability of writers to over-ready critics); Robinson is to publish his experiences in the Cornhill Magazine, a prominent journal for over 100 years, in which many Victorians serialized novels (including this one). In the final chapter there is a surprising ennoblement of Robinson, and a very positive ending (final comments by Arnold Banner)

Genre(s): Humorous Fiction, Literary Fiction, Satire

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 Preface. By One of the Firm Arnold
Play 02 The Early History of Our Mr. Brown, with Some Few Words of Mr. Jones Arnold
Play 03 The Early History of Mr. Robinson Arnold
Play 04 Nine Times Nine is Eighty-one. Showing How Brown, Jones, and Robinson Selected Their House of Business Arnold
Play 05 The Division of Labour Arnold
Play 06 It is Our Opening Day Arnold
Play 07 Miss Brown Pleads Her Own Case, and Mr. Robinson Walks on Blackfriars Bridge Arnold
Play 08 Mr. Brisket Thinks He Sees His Way, and Mr. Robinson again Walks on Blackfriars Bridge Arnold
Play 09 Showing How Mr. Robinson was Employed on the Opening Day Arnold
Play 10 Showing How the Firm Invented a New Shirt Arnold
Play 11 Johnson of Manchester Arnold
Play 12 Samson and Delilah Arnold
Play 13 The Wisdom of Poppins Arnold
Play 14 Mistress Morony Arnold
Play 15 Miss Brown Names the Day Arnold
Play 16 Showing How Robinson Walked Upon Roses Arnold
Play 17 A Tea-party in Bishopsgate Street Arnold
Play 18 An Evening at the "Goose and Gridiron" Arnold
Play 19 George Robinson's Marriage Arnold
Play 20 Showing How Mr. Brisket Didn't See His Way Arnold
Play 21 Mr. Brown is Taken Ill Arnold
Play 22 Wasteful and Impetuous Sale Arnold
Play 23 Farewell Arnold
Play 24 George Robinson's Dream Arnold