Joanne Wilkes, “The Implications of the Cricket Match in Anthony Trollope’s The Fixed Period (1882)”
Anthony Trollope’s late novel The Fixed Period (1882), set a century in the future in a fictional South Pacific island, has often puzzled readers. It deals with a policy of compulsory euthanasia in the politically independent island of Britannula, a policy that is overturned when the island is taken over by Britain. My article aims to explain an odd interlude in the novel: a cricket match in Britannula between a local and an English team. Drawing on the history of cricket matches between England and its antipodean colonies around the time of the novel’s composition, I argue that the cricketing interlude serves to highlight the text’s take on the Britannulans. This community, living a hundred years in the future, claims to be autonomous, but it possesses a mindset still governed by a sense of Britain as the “mother country.” Hence Trollope emphasizes how difficult it is for settler societies to shake off such attitudes and ties.
The appearance of The New Game of Human Life on 14 July 1790 was a significant milestone in the history of British leisure. Its London publishers, John Wallis and Elizabeth Newbery, appealingly packaged the table-game for a flourishing children’s market and for middle-class consumers invested in stories of individual development and social mobility. The popularity of this race-game helped pave the way, in the decades to come, for innumerable, similarly conceived entrants in the competitive marketplace for domestic amusements—including an iconic successor, published in 1860 by a young American entrepreneur named Milton Bradley: “The Checkered Game of Life,” later “The Game of Life” and, finally, simply “Life.”