Margaret Oliphant

Elisabeth Jay

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
Margaret Oliphant

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Margaret Oliphant Wilson Oliphant (b. 1828–d. 1897) was a prolific and influential Victorian author. She turned her professional hand to a variety of prose genres, publishing some ninety-eight novels; over fifty short stories; biographies, both historical and contemporary; historic guides to European cities; and over 300 periodical articles. Oliphant never published under her maiden name of Wilson, though four of her early novels were published under the name of her brother, William Wilson. Her fiction was variously published anonymously, under the initials M. O. W. O, and, after her widowhood in 1859, under the name Mrs. Oliphant. Although she used a variety of publishers, she was best known, for almost fifty years, as the mainstay of the literary periodical Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, sometimes producing serialized fiction, a book review, and an essay for the same monthly edition. Her posthumously published autobiography, in which she questioned whether she had published too much and outlived the literary fashions of midcentury, was partly responsible for a rapid eclipse of her reputation that lasted for much of the 20th century. The closing decades of the 20th century saw a reawakening of interest in her work, prompted by the breadth of her journalism, the unflinching realism of much of her fiction, and her negotiations with a male-dominated literary marketplace. Although her views on “the woman question” did not always make her an easy candidate for feminists to champion, critics have increasingly recognized the individuality of expression and intelligence with which she treated topics as diverse as her Scottish inheritance and various facets of 19th-century spirituality.

Article.  8394 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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