Margaret Oliphant was a prolific writer, with over 120 published works, including historical novels, essays and ‘tales of the supernatural.’

Although her life was often difficult, she managed to support her family through her writing, starting with publishing her first novel at the age of 21: Passages in the Life of Mrs. Margaret Maitland.



More like a Place than a street

– Margaret Oliphant

This quotation comes from her book Royal Edinburgh, which includes many vibrant descriptions of the area around the Museum of Edinburgh:

“And the view from Ramsay’s shop … was bounded by the gate of the Netherbow with its picturesque tower, and glimpses through the open roadway, of the Canongate beyond, and the cross lines of busy traffic leading to Leith. It was thus a wide space between the lines of high houses, more like a Place than a street, upon which the two gossips gazed, no doubt with a complacent thought that their living presence underneath carried out the symbol of the two heads above…”

There’s a memorial to Margaret Oliphant in St Giles’ Cathedral. In a letter to the Spectator from 1907, a Mr J.H. Millar wrote asking for publicity for support for the memorial (which was supported by the newspaper, which she’d written for during her career), asserting that:

“Her name has not grown less in these years; she still holds honourable rank among the writers of the Victorian era as probably the most distinguished Scotswoman of letters the country has produced.”