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The first novel in Trollope's series Chronicles of Barsetshire, The Warden is a compassionate portrait of the gentle, thoughtful warden and percent of Barchester Cathedral, Mr Septimus Harding. Loved and appreciated by all with whom he works, Harding lives an ordered, regular life in his protected religious environment. Then a young reformer feels he has uncovered a mismanagement of funds used to support twelve bedesmen in the almshouse, Hiram's Hospital, and Harding is held to blame. The accusation comes as a shock not only to Harding himself but also to the cathedral community. It then comes to wider notice when the cause is taken up by a national newspaper.
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The first of Trollope's popular Barsetshire novels, set in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, "The Warden centers on the honorable cleric Septimus Harding, one of Trollope's most memorable characters. When Harding is accused of mismanaging church funds, his predicament lays bare the complexities of the Victorian world and of nineteenth-century provincial life. And, as Louis Auchincloss observes in his Introduction, "The theme of "The Warden presents the kind of social problem that always fascinated Trollope: the inevitable clash of ancient privilege with modern social awareness."
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