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A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Oliphant, Mrs. Margaret Oliphant

Oliphant, Mrs. Margaret Oliphant (WILSON) (1828-1897). — Novelist and miscellaneous writer, was b. near Musselburgh. Her literary output began when she was little more than a girl, and was continued almost up to the end of her life. Her first novel, Mrs. Margaret Maitland, appeared in 1849, and its humour, pathos, and insight into character gave the author an immediate position in literature. It was followed by an endless succession, of which the best were the series of The Chronicles of Carlingford (1861-65), including Salem Chapel, The Perpetual Curate, and Miss Marjoribanks, all of which, as well as much of her other work, appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, with which she had a lifelong connection. Others of some note were The Primrose Path, Madonna Mary (1866), The Wizard's Son, and A Beleaguered City. She did not, however, confine herself to fiction, but wrote many books of history and biography, including Sketches of the Reign of George II. (1869), The Makers of Florence (1876), Literary History of England 1790-1825, Royal Edinburgh (1890), and Lives of St. Francis of Assisi, Edward Irving, and Principal Tulloch. Her generosity in supporting and educating the family of a brother as well as her own two sons rendered necessary a rate of production which was fatal to the permanence of her work. She was negligent as to style, and often wrote on subjects to which her intellectual equipment and knowledge did not enable her to do proper justice. She had, however, considerable power of painting character, and a vein of humour, and showed untiring industry in getting up her subjects.