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Margaret Oliphant

Margaret Oliphant

Margaret Oliphant (1828 – 97), née Wilson, was born at Wallyford near Edinburgh. Her father was a businessman, and the family moved to Glasgow and then to Liverpool where she spent her childhood. Her first novel, Passages in the Life of Mrs Margaret Maitland (1849), was set in Scotland and proved a considerable success. Margaret moved to London in 1852 and married her cousin, the artist Frank Wilson Oliphant in 1857. However, he died of tuberculosis only two years later, leaving her with three young children to support and debts to pay. By 1865 she was also supporting her widowed, alcoholic brother and three of his four children, and from 1849 produced over a hundred titles. Many of these were three-volume novels, but her prolific oeuvre also includes literary histories, studies of historical figures, books on great cities and many short stories.