Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson cover

Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)

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

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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 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)