I wonder how one should judge a writer. When one has written as many books as Trollope, there is no doubt (as Trollope conceives himself) there will be a wide variance in the quality of the work. However, do you judge a writer by A) his best work, B) his worst work or C) the overall body of work? I think the best answer is A. If a writer is more concerned with being thought of as a great writer than he is about producing a work that truly serves the reader, he may turn out consistently good projects. However, in playing it safe, he may fail to achieve the ultimate with his ability. I suspect that a great writer is one who puts his or her work first. A great writer is one who puts the work above his reputation. This writer may start writing while young, and his work may mature over time. This writer might take risks and thus produce inferior work. However, this writer — who will spend himself for the hope of creating something truly helpful, for the hope of doing his ultimate best — is the writer I respect.
Ultimately, a writer must determine whether or not he is writing for the sake of the audience or writing for the sake of his name.