During her long career, Mrs Oliphant published 98 novels, over 50 short stories, 25 works of non-fiction and hundreds of articles. She was prolific because she had to be: a straggling network of dependants relied on her, including two hopelessly prodigal sons. Trollope may have used her (not very kindly) as the model for hack author Lady Carbury in The Way We live Now; but this biographical study takes her seriously as an artist. Despite some interesting discussion of the problems facing Victorian women professionals, it is rather laboured and academic in tone, and makes the mistake of separating her life-story (summarised in Chapter 1) from the analysis of the works.
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MRS OLIPHANT by Elisabeth Jay, Oxford £25