Margaret Oliphant was widely recognized at the time of her death as one of the great Victorian writers of fiction-and, after a long period of eclipse, her fiction has in the twenty-first century begun to be again considered alongside that of such writers as Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and Thomas Hardy. Yet many of Oliphant's works remain unavailable-including many of the works of short fiction that arguably constitute her most accessible and most accomplished body of work. In introducing the collection in which the novella Queen Oliphant and Fair Rosamond first appeared in book form, J.M. Barrie argued that Oliphant's stories represent some of her finest work-indeed nearly all of her deepest imaginings have appeared ... in this form. He went on to suggest that, in Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamond Oliphant gives us ... as terrible and grim a picture of a man tired of fifty years of respectability as was ever written. At least as important is the picture she gives us of the wife of that man. It is the wife, indeed, who is at the center of Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamond, which recounts the story of Mr. and Mrs. Lycett-Landon- two middle-aged people in the fullness of life and prosperity -and of what becomes of their marriage when Mr. Lycett-Landon (of the Liverpool office of cotton-brokers Lycett, Landon, Fareham & Co.) becomes uncommunicative while on an extended business trip to the company's London office. In addition to an illuminating introduction, this edition includes a variety of background materials that help to set this important and engaging work of short fiction in its literary and historical context.
This welcome edition of Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamond allows readers to experience, perhaps for the first time, Margaret Oliphant's exquisite skill at depicting 'marriage [as] a tie which is curiously elastic.' The novella is one of Oliphant's many little-known shorter works which explore the ambiguity and psychological complexity of the relations between the genders with a sensitivity that anticipates the novels of Henry James. ... Pam Perkins's edition provides a perfect frame for the novella--an introduction to Oliphant's life and works, excerpts from other literary tales of Eleanor and Rosamond, selections from bigamy laws and novels of the period that deal with bigamy, contemporary reviews, and contextual background for the novel's sophisticated representations of class relations, suburbia, and its setting in London and Liverpool. -- Elsie Michie, Louisiana State University Margaret Oliphant's works are hard to come by, so for this reason alone Pam Perkins's edition of Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamond is valuable. It is made substantially the more so by Perkins's clear and helpful annotations and her illuminating and insightful introduction, situating the novella within the framework of contemporary fictional representations of bigamy while also highlighting Oliphant's unique attention to issues of gender and class. ... This is an admirable edition, relevant to those who know Oliphant as well as those encountering her for the first time. -- Emily Morris, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan It is very good to have one of Margaret Oliphant's later short stories published in the form of an accessible student text, accompanied by contextual material which helps to explain the significance of her take on the recurrent Victorian subject of bigamous marriages. Long remembered only for her successful mid-century 'Chronicles of Carlingford' and her 1862 essay 'Sensation Novels, ' ... [Oliphant here] offers an extraordinary insight into the emotional cost that might be demanded in preserving her long-held belief in the virtue of female self-sacrifice. -- Elisabeth Jay, Oxford Brookes University