The Margaret Oliphant Site

Welcome to the new format of the Margaret Oliphant site. My life, the rather limited time I can at present allot to my research and my own changing views on what would be more appropriate in contributing to the Oliphant discussion have led me to think that adopting/adapting the wiki form might prove more enriching than the previous version of this resource.

This space is devoted to the life and works of Margaret Oliphant, or Margaret Oliphant Wilson Oliphant, as she often signed herself. Though I have found a few interesting links on her (check Links) since I began my research, it still is but little and not always organised or homogeneous. My wish in creating this site is to eventually provide a comprehensive introduction to the author and thus to contribute to the recent tide of academic interest in Mrs. Oliphant. Much (almost everything as yet!) is missing as you can see, but this site will be developed alongside my own Ph.D. thesis, as they both share the main subject. I will then be very happy to hear from any one interested in Mrs. Oliphant, whether out of a scholarly interest or not, and will warmly welcome all suggestions, comments and/or contributions.

My warmest thanks to Joan Richardson for her friendship, helpful comments, generous help and for the 'Oliphant cause'! Many thanks and proper credit to Antonio Garcia Dominguez for his technical support in the (re)construction and maintenance of the new site/wiki. I couldn't have done it without you!




, 2010/01/02 14:00

I am looking forward to following this site.

, 2010/01/02 14:10

I will enjoy reading these comments.

, 2010/01/03 13:21

Many thanks, Patty. It is very encouraging to read these first comments.

, 2010/01/09 17:25

A unique and informative site! My British Lit teacher mentioned Margaret Oliphant to me, so I followed up and researched, stumbling upon this site. I appreciate your Oliphant exploration. Well done!

, 2010/06/07 20:49

I am re-reading Miss Marjoribanks, having first read it in 1991 (before internet!). Very interesting but heart-breaking to learn of her difficult life. Thanks for the site, it fulfilled my curiosity.

, 2010/06/14 17:43

hurrah… help at hand at last!

, 2010/07/27 10:06

Margaret Oliphant is one of my favourite 19th-century authors. I can't believe I finally managed to stumble on the book “Miss Marjoribanks” at and I guess it's one of her best works.

, 2010/09/27 01:52

Well, it may be one of her best, but I'm not sure that it is her “best.” I just read “In Trust: A Lady and Her Lover” and I think that it's much better than “Miss Marjoribanks.” “Kirsteen” is better, too, I think. “Agnes” is great until towards the end when Mrs. Oliphant lets her own grief carry her away and allow herself to go on and on and on (understandable if you know her life, but not good for literature). I like “May” and “The Doctor's Family” better, too… I read “Miss Marjoribanks” first and loved it at the time, not realizing how many other books there were and each one so different…

, 2010/12/27 18:35

Gosh, I didn't know mrs Oliphant had such a tragic life. I am currently reading some ghost stories by her, that I truly appreciate. The reason I tried looking her up on the net, is that I find her style of writing highly sensetive, which is something that attracts me greatly. I figured she must have been a special person, and well, reading more about her, makes me realize she indeed is. I would love to read some of her other works as well.

, 2011/01/05 02:17

Have just finished “Chronicles of Carlingford” and particularly 'Salem Chapel' was quite engrossing. I thought how the deacons and elders and their wives and families were still like some churches today with the power to wound with their behaviour and words. I could relate to many of those wee nuances within close-knit church circles that Mrs Oliphant writes about - it is still part of human nature today. I really love the way she can write about many types of women and present them within the context of where they live and their circumstances without belittling them. Just finished “kirsteen” and found this a very different type of book - it was very hard and sad to think of the life of the scots family ruled over by the autocratic laird and the lack of overt affection shown within the family - such were many families in those times. My father was Scots and he spoke many times of how his mother and father shook hands in the morning as they parted for the day - there was no overt affection but underneath a deep love for each other. I really cannot say I read “Kirsteen” with a lightness because it portrayed this difficult life the female members of the family had to endure untile they were able to escape - not unlike many abused women of today.

, 2011/05/25 15:29

I found your web site last week and see people are as interested in Mrs Oliphant as I am. I realised some years ago that her fiction writing is only one part of her output: for 40 years she contributed regularly on a wide variety of subjects to Blackwood's prestigious monthly magasine, and these pieces show what a strong-minded woman she was and how interesting - though also sad - her life turned out to be.I hope I've captured this in my book - just published: 'A Basketful of Fragments'. I've written it as though she is writing a non-chronological reminiscence of her life - so, a 'fictional' autobiography, but based entirely on her life and writings. My web site is:, and I hope the book will be of interest and will add to what is known about this intelligent, fascinating woman.

, 2011/12/30 01:19

Krystyna, I have just learned about your book by reading about it in on this site. I will get a copy. I am researching every branch of the Oliphants and the Kellie Oliphants (and their cadet branches (stirpes)are a major part of the family. I was wondering what you knew about Margaret's genealogy. I was talking to a member of Margaret's (co-lateral) family a couple of days ago who said that the Wilson family tree goes back about 400/500 years. I am more interested in the Oliphants. Roddy.

, 2011/12/11 04:59

Thrilled to find this site! I stumbled across M.O. in a rather poor collection and her pieces jumped out at me. I'm fascinated by what little I've gleaned online about her life and am looking forward to delving into her works and works about her! Thank you for creating this site!

, 2012/01/01 04:40

I am very excited to have found this sight whilst looking for Margaret Oliphant to double check information in my family tree. Margaret OLIPHANT B. 1568, is a relative of mine. Margaret married Revd. Andrew PLAYFAIR B. 1579. Son of Patrick PLAYFAIR b. ? fl. 1579-94 Deacon of Cordliners at St. Andrews I have 2 children to Margaret and Andrew PLAYFAIR b.1579. Children are; 1. Margaret b. ? - baptised 1629 and d. aft. 1698 2. Andrew b. 26 June 1635 - Baptised 1635 - d. before 1698

I am happy to help if I can. Keep up the great work you have done so far, it is fantastic. from Gillian

, 2012/02/26 08:59

Hi Gillian

I would be interested in seeing your family tree for Margaret Oliphant

I think there is a connection as my Great Grandftaher had a sister his middle name was Wilson and I believe his father may have been a first cousin of Margaret's.

If this is the case it will help solve a few mysteries we have at the moment


David Oliphant Australia

, 2012/02/08 08:04

What an amazing person. I am in the process of writing a paper for a class on Justice Theory about early feminism and Margaret Oliphant is quite an inspiration.

, 2012/05/25 14:36

Somehow I have reached the age of 72 with a deep affection for Victorian literature but never having read a single work by “Mrs Oliphant.” For the last six months I've been busily correcting that oversight.

She is surely one of the funniest and shrewdest writers of them all. Her moments of pathos are never sentimental (unlike Dickens'); her cads are despicable but all-too-real little vermin (unlike Trollope's); her wise and beautiful virgins are flawed and warmly sympathetic (unlike Thackeray's); her preachments are rare and always tolerant (unlike the other Mrs – Humphrey Ward, Henry Wood etc.) Is there anyone like her? Not that I can think of. Her one enemy is the length of the three-volume novel which (as anyone who has tried a hand at writing fiction will agree) was an intolerable curb.

Why has she escaped the attention of the world (apart it seems for a brief re-flourishing in the 1980's) for so long? It is inexplicable.

My greatest respect to the author of this website, and the best of luck in bringing Margaret Oliphant to the centre-stage where she belongs.

, 2012/06/10 14:45

Haven't checked this site in a while. I was so glad to see you posted her complete bibliography! That is incredibly helpful. I also agree she was a remarkable writer and doesn't get anywhere near the attention she deserves.

I recently took another foray into finding her works online in e-book format and found some improvement in the cataloging of her works. Two sites I found very helpful: - use the Advanced Search option to look for only e-books. I found using just “Mrs. Oliphant” as author got the best results.

Many of her works were published in three volume sets and modern databases often ignore this. I found the online catalog at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to be excellent. It links these volumes together in its catalog. When the search result returns the catalog records for the first volume, it then has a link to 'more volumes'. Click on that, and all volumes are shown. They can be read online or downloaded as PDFs.

Happy reading!

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