Margaret Oliphant: a force to be reckoned with

When I first began exploring titles for my Publishing Production project I was really struck by how many of Margaret Oliphant’s works I had never heard of before, and speaking with peers, family and friends I realised I wasn’t alone. When I came across the powerful and driven voice of the central character in Oliphant’s novel Kirsteen (1890), I knew I had to help bring this largely forgotten story to readers today.

Set in the early 19th century, Kirsteen tells the story of a refreshingly feisty Scottish woman who rejects the conventional path which had been laid out for her before she was even born. Described by the narrator as ‘one of those who make a story for themselves’, she was determined to shape a future for herself through her trade and natural skill; a sentiment echoed in Oliphant’s own life, herself a woman who wrote to support her large extended family.

Oliphant was an unstoppable force – her work being abundant and widely popular in its day, even favoured by Queen Victoria. It is easy to see why – Kirsteen celebrates complex and interesting women, with a powerful narrative driving the novel that makes it impossible to put down. She was truly a force to be reckoned with.

This book will be edited and designed by Elizabeth Eagan. Find and follow me on Twitter 

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Catherine Carswell’s ‘Open the Door!’ – Republishing a Rebel

Catherine Carswell was a badass. Both personally and professionally she dealt with more than her fair share of strife. In her time, Carswell became well-known for her biography of Robert Burns, but not for the right reasons. Carswell’s biography was controversial – unlike previous works which praised and worshipped Burns, Carswell’s account of his life was frank and honest, detailing his faults and affairs. For this she received huge backlash from the many fans of Burns who rejected this portrayal, attacking her with sermons and apparently going as far as sending her bullets to use upon herself. So that was fun.

Personally, Carswell had faced turmoil from her first marriage to a war veteran named Herbert Jackson. They married very early in their relationship, only for Carswell to later discover that he suffered incredibly from paranoia – thinking himself sterile, Herbert accused his wife of betrayal when she announced her pregnancy, and threatened her life. Carswell made legal history when she managed to get the marriage annulled after establishing that her husband’s insanity was present when they first married. Again – fun.

Catherine Carswell was incredibly brave in both of these circumstances – brave enough to write so controversially, and brave enough to fight against the marriage she was in. Her novel Open the Door! first published in 1920, is reflective of this. The novel follows Joanna Bannerman as she grows and questions the attitudes instilled in her during her youth – religion, marriage, female identity, sex – subjects we are still questioning now. For these reasons I chose to produce this novel, and for these reasons she deserves to be celebrated on International Women’s Day. Genuine fun!

This book will be edited and designed by Lizzie Green. Head on over to my Twitter if you’re in need of GIFs or any general ridiculousness.

International Women’s Day – time to celebrate inspirational women!

For our latest project, we were tasked by having to choose a Scottish author who is out of copyright. I chose Mrs Margaret Oliphant, a popular choice as demonstrated by previous posts from my fellow peers. Below are a few reasons why I today am celebrating the wonderful Oliphant as an author, but more importantly, as a women.

M – ‘Margaret’ means ‘pearl’ which is often associated with the stereotype that all women like materialistic shiny things, such as diamonds and pearls. However, the name also stands for Saint Margaret from the 4th century, who represented the undercurrent of women determining their own destinies by escaping a dragon (an old folk tale of course, but symbolises a women escaping on her own. Similar to the heroines depicted in Oliphant’s own novels.

A – Author. I respect all writers of all kinds, but I have always had a strong respect and admiration towards female authors as unfortunately getting their voices and names out their is hard as the industry has, and still is, predominately male. Oliphant went on to write numerous successful novels. whilst still being a women in a man’s world.

R – ‘The Rector’. This is the title of the first story that features in her series ‘The Chronicles of Carlingford’. It so happens, that this story and another (‘The Doctor’s Family’) are the pieces of work I am publishing from Elephant, for Merchiston Publishers.

G – (not just a) Girl. She may of started of as a girl, but went onto become a driven independent women.

A – ‘A Literary History of England from 1760 to 1825. Oliphant did not only write fiction pieces, such as this non-fiction book. As the old stereotype goes, women can multitask.

R – Romance. The majority of Oliphant’s fiction novels fall into the ‘romance’ category.

E – East Lothian. She was born near Musselburgh, East Lothian.

T – Tales of the Supernatural. Alongside writing romance novels and non-fiction pieces, Oliphant was also very into all things supernatural, including writing some ghost stories along the way. Now who said you couldn’t do it all; Margaret Oliphant did.

 

O – Oliphant. I just love her surname. Especially as its like ‘elephant’, which my spell check keeps reminding me every time I type her surname.

L – Loved, lost and lived. Oliphant unfortunately has a sad home life, including three of her children dying at infancy, followed by her husband and then her remaining daughter who was buried in alongside her fathers/Oliphant’s husband. Despite all this pain and sorrow, she carried on. She relocated and put her engird into writing. She loved, she lost and she continued to live, which I will always find inspiring of anyone who has that kind of strength and determination.

I – Irish novelist ‘Emily Lawless’. Oliphant was a literary mentor too Emily, passing on her advice and knowledge to the up and coming author. Women supporting women.

P – ‘Passages in the Life of Mrs. Margaret Maitland’. Her first novel ever published (in 1949).

H- ‘Holy Land’. One of her articles which was published in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1854 (vol. 76). 

A- Aries. She was born in April (the 4th) making her an Aries which are known for being courageous, determined and passionate; which are very prompt too Oliphant herself.

N – Novelist. She went onto the publish over 120 novels from 1849 to 1897.

T – ‘The Chronicles of Carlingford’. These chronicles featured seven volumes and again *cough* *plug* *cough* is the chronicles I have decided to publish.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY! I leave you with these lovely words by the women herself, Mrs Margaret Oliphant:

Oh never mind the fashion. When one has style of one’s own, it’s always twenty times better

International Women’s Day: Violet Jacob

A little about Violet Jacob for International Women’s Day

There is little I can think of that is more tragic than a fantastic story that gets lost in time. For this reason, I have decided to reproduce Flemington by Violet Jacob for my Book Project this term.

Violet Jacob was a Scottish poet and novelist who lived between 1863 and 1946. She holds a special place in my heart not only because she was a born and bred Angus girl, like myself, but also because Flemington was surprisingly ahead of its time for a novel published in 1911. I know that that’s a phrase that we use all too often at the moment, but Flemington is a novel about a Jacobite and a Crown Spy who meet and after one night together have a connection so strong that the spy, Archibald Flemington, abandons his loyalties.

It was claimed to be ‘the best Scots romance since The Master of Ballantrae,’ by John Buchan, and while I haven’t read The Master of Ballantrae but I am happy to vouch for Flemington as the best romance I read in 2017. The fact that it was an Angus woman writing gay Jacobite romance only makes it something fonder to my heart.

Upcoming Release: A Hardy Woman by Violet Jacob

“She was a hardy woman now,” Violet Jacob writes in her story “Thievie,” describing the character Janet: a woman “unremarkable in feature, yet remarkable in presence,” determined to take her future in her own hands. As part of my Publishing Production project, I decided to collect seven short stories and a novella by this wonderful – and largely forgotten – twentieth-century Scottish author, all featuring her most unconventional and fascinating female characters. Titled A Hardy Woman, this collection will include fiction from The Fortune-Hunters and Other Stories (1910), Tales of My Own Country (1922) and The Lum Hat (published posthumously in 1982).

The book will be edited and designed by Alice Piotrowska. Feel free to contact and follow me on Twitter and check out my Goodreads profile.

Why Margaret Oliphant deserves to be on your bookshelf

As part of our Publishing Production project, each student was tasked with selecting an out-of-copyright Scottish author to republish. Admittedly it took me a while to settle on a specific author, but ultimately I chose Margaret Oliphant. Now, half way through the project, I am can’t imagine a better choice. Oliphant published over 170 novels and short stories between 1855 and 1897 – a testament to her skill and popularity – and became well known for her ghost stories.

For my project I decided to produce a small collection of these ghost stories; this collection would include Earthbound, Beleaguered City and Old Lady Mary. I have always enjoyed a good ghost story, and Margaret Oliphant’s works did not disappoint! Her stories were so different from what I had come to expect from ghost stories of her era. They have been unexpected, bizarre, and an absolute pleasure to read. Although I’ve only read a small fraction of her works, I look forward to diving into more of them and I can’t wait to help bring her stories to new readers.

About the editor and designer

I’m Georgia, an MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University. I’m also an avid reader of sci-fi, fantasy and supernatural stories.

Upcoming release: The Library Window by Margaret Oliphant

I chose The Library Window, as my Publishing Production project, as I wanted to publish a book in the supernatural genre. Margaret Oliphant, a Scottish author, was well-known for writing ghost stories in her day, so I looked into a few of her stories. What intrigued me about this specific story, was the combination of two supernatural themes. The very obvious ghost theme, and the more indirectly mentioned cursed diamond ring theme.

About the editor and designer
I’m Sinead, an MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University. My blog Huntress of Diverse Books focuses on reviewing and promoting diverse books. I’m also a co-host at Lit CelebrAsian, an initiative aiming to uplift Asian voices in literature.