The Library Window
  • Publication Date: February 20, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554814183 / 1554814189
  • 110 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Library Window

  • Publication Date: February 20, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554814183 / 1554814189
  • 110 pages; 5½" x 8½"

In this Victorian tale, a young woman recuperating at her aunt’s house in a Scottish town is spending a good deal of time looking out at the world through an upstairs window. Across the way is a university library; one of its windows holds particular interest—but the things she sees there at one moment are gone the next. Is what she has seen real, or a figment of her adolescent imagination?

In addition to an illuminating introduction, this edition includes a variety of background materials that help to set this extraordinary work of fiction in its literary and historical context.


“A timely edition of one of the Victorian era’s most brilliant—if hitherto under-read—ghost stories, at once a tale of frustrated romance and a haunting allegory of women’s marginal relation to male-defined spheres of learning and literary authority. Annmarie S. Drury’s introduction and the volume’s supplementary materials usefully situate the story in such relevant contexts as its place in its author’s career, Victorian debates about reading for girls, views on the supernatural, and issues of Scottish national identity.” — Tamar Heller, University of Cincinnati

“This valuable edition of Oliphant’s supernatural tale ‘The Library Window’ will be a useful entryway into the work of one of Victorian literature’s most important and, until recently, critically ignored authors. Drury’s excellent introduction offers readers useful information about Oliphant’s career and life, while also situating Oliphant’s extensive oeuvre in the context of Victorian literary debates around women’s writing and professional authorship. … Drury offers useful information and background, without ever dictating readers’ interpretations of the story. This is an excellent edition for the college classroom.” — Elizabeth Meadows, Vanderbilt University

“‘The Library Window’ is one of the finest Victorian ghost stories: a compelling mixture of psychological acuity, mystery, and tragic love which is at once a vivid portrait of adolescence and a sophisticated meditation on the experience of haunting. This new edition provides a helpful introduction and notes alongside a range of informative contextual material which situates Oliphant's story in Victorian considerations of the supernatural, women’s health, psychology, and the profession of authorship.” — Nick Freeman, Loughborough University

“Margaret Oliphant’s ‘The Library Window’ is one of the most important ghost stories of the late nineteenth century. … This new edition helps to contextualize the story with well-chosen extracts from contemporary texts on the psychology of the adolescent and the social role of the library. …” — Penny Fielding, University of Edinburgh


  • Margaret Oliphant
  • The Library Window
  • A Note on the Text

The Library Window

In Context

  • from Sir David Brewster, Letters on Natural Magic, Addressed to Sir Walter Scott (1832)
    • from Letter 2
  • from Margaret Oliphant, “Scotland and Her Accusers” (1861)
  • from Margaret Oliphant, “The Sisters Brontë,” in Women Novelists of Queen Victoria’s Reign (1897)
  • from J.E. [Jane Ellen] Panton, A Gentlewoman’s Home: The Whole Art of Building, Furnishing, and Beautifying the Home (1896)
    • from Chapter 9, “Libraries”
  • from E.J. [Edward John] Tilt, On the Preservation of the Health of Women at the Critical Periods of Life (1851)
    • from Chapter 1, “On the Right Management of Young Women before the First Appearance of Menstruation”
  • from G. Stanley Hall, Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education, vol. 2 (1904)
    • from Chapter 16, “Intellectual Development and Education”
  • from Margaret Oliphant, The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M.O.W. Oliphant (1899)
  • Images of Scottish Street Scenes and Interiors
  • Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine: January 1896

Annmarie Drury is Associate Professor of English at Queens College, City University of New York; her other books include Translation as Transformation in Victorian Poetry (Cambridge UP, 2015).