The Trope Namer
is a fictitious county in England, created by Anthony Trollope
and later re-used and developed by Angela Thirkell. A Barsetshire is the setting for a series of novels, containing one or a few small towns and a lot of countryside. Novels set in a Barsetshire are basically light domestic comedies, though they may have occasional nuggets of melodrama, drama, or even tragedy. Nothing blatantly science-fictional, fantastic, or paranormal takes place (except for the occasional ghost story or local legend related by a character), and any crime or espionage drama is muted and secondary.
In short, you go to Barsetshire for a quiet, relaxing time, in the expectation of being gently amused more than anything else.
A Barsetshire is connected to the real world, and the people can go off and visit London or New York freely, or have visitors or emigres from such places. Often, real-world history is visible. A Barsetshire is distinct from other fictional towns in mainstream novels by being the setting for a whole series, in which the same characters and places appear over and over, though different ones may take center stage in any given book.
and Fictional Country
, contrast with Lovecraft Country
and Campbell Country
- The Chronicles of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope, set in the 19th century:
- The Warden
- Barchester Towers
- Doctor Thorne
- Framley Parsonage
- The Small House at Allington
- The Last Chronicle of Barset
- The Barsetshire novels of Angela Thirkell, set in the first half of the 20th century, including:
- High Rising
- The Demon in the House
- Pomfret Towers
- The Brandons
- Before Lunch
- Cheerfulness Breaks In
- and many more.
- Pretty much every novel written by Jane Austen.
- The Fairacre novels of Miss Read [Dora Jessica Saint], set in the later 20th century and usually narrated by the local schoolteacher.
- The Thrush Green novels of the same Miss Read, set in the later 20th century and usually narrated in the third person.
- The Mitford novels of Jan Karon.
- The training cruiser in the novel We Joined The Navy is HMS Barsetshire
- The fictional island of Sodor from The Railway Series.
- Jilly Cooper's Rutshire novels are set in one of these.
- Nancy Ahtherton's Aunt Dimity series is mostly set in and around the village of Finch and the nearby market town of Upper Deeping, said to be in the Cotswolds. Dimity Westwood's ghost is an ongoing presence, but she is very well-mannered and largely confines herself to her cottage and her journal.
- British books of etiquette sometimes use "Barsetshire" as a placeholder location when describing how to address the aristocracy, so for instance the section on how to address a Duke will refer to the "Duke of Barsetshire".
- A rare fantastic example, a large number of stories from the Cthulhu Mythos happens in little fictional towns of New England, with many recurring characters (although most of them are driven mad).
- Thomas Hardy set a lot of his novels in "Wessex", which encompassed a big chunk of the UK's south west from Berkshire to Devon.
- Zigzagged in the 2013 novel Cross And Poppy. The setting's a lovely bit of countryside and most of the people are charming. Most. But some of his students try to frame English master Sher Mirza as a pedophile, poison his cat, Eric (who survives), and ultimately attempt murder by arson. And there are funerals as well as christenings.
- Felix Holt, a less well-known novel by George Eliot, is set in the fictional "Loamshire". This then had a further life in British Army training materials, which use "Loamshire Regiment" as the name for a generic military unit. The "Loamshire Regiment" was then used as the original military affiliation of Bulldog Drummond and several characters in Evelyn Waugh works.
- The theme-named county of Midsomer.
- Considering the murder rate, anyone going there for a quiet, relaxing time is Too Dumb to Live.
- Mercilessly parodied by Craggy Island in Father Ted (it's admittedly an Irish equivalent of this trope).
- Barsetshire resembles the fictional town of Leadworth, hometown of Companions Amy & Rory in Doctor Who.
- Market Shipborough, the setting of Kingdom, is explicitly in Norfolk, but otherwise fits the trope.