It’s been over a year since we published Ghost stories by Victorian women, a “further reading” list chosen by Professor Melissa Edmundson, which followed neatly on from her anthology Avenging Angels, published by Victorian Secrets. Now seems an especially good time to follow up on that list, with most people self-isolating and hungry for recommendations, and from short stories we jump to novellas. Authors one might expect such as Margaret Oliphant and Charlotte Riddell feature on this new list by Edmundson, an expert on 19th and early 20th women writers of the supernatural, but did you know Little Women author Louisa May Alcott wrote sensation fiction under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard? Read on as Edmundson walks us through seven brilliant authors of the supernatural.
It is hard not to begin an article about Margaret Oliphant (1828-1897) without referring to her famous prolificacy, as she produced over 120 works of fiction and non-fiction in her lifetime, making even Anthony Trollope look like a layabout. Oliphant was amongst those early British women writers who managed to make a living from their writing, although in Oliphant’s case, following the death of her husband in 1859, it was more a matter of survival for her and her children. There was a revival of interest in Oliphant’s work, which had fallen into obscurity, towards the end of the 20th century, seeing the republication of a number of her books – OUP’s Oxford World Classics edition of her 1883 novel, Hester, describes Oliphant as “one of the great Victorian novelists.”