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Mr Peacocke, a Classical scholar, has come to Broughtonshire with his beautiful American wife to live as a schoolmaster. But when the blackmailing brother of her first husband - a reprobate from Louisiana - appears at the school gates, a dreadful secret is revealed and the county is scandalized. Ostracised by the community, the pair seem trapped in a hopeless situation - until the combative but warm-hearted headmaster of the school, Dr Wortle, offers his support, and Mr Peacocke embarks upon a journey to America that he hopes will lay to rest the accusations once and for all. A perceptive exploration of Victorian morality, Dr Wortle's School (1881) also contains echoes of Trollope's own life, and his personal affection for the vivacious Bostonian Kate Field.