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A Beleaguered City (Oliphant)

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A Beleaguered City: Being a Narrative of Certain Recent Events in the City of Semur, in the Department of the Haute Bourgogne: A Story of the Seen and the Unseen (1880) is considered to be Margaret Oliphant’s first excursion into the field of supernatural tales. This ghost story builds up on successive narrative voices that variously narrate how a French city is invaded by spirits, not working evil but seeking to convert the people from their worldly materialism. Among sharply individualized responses, in general the prosperous and the men are horrified and outraged, while the poor and the women welcome the visitations. A shift toward human perception and dignity of life is suggested through the tale.


A Beleaguered City, published in book form by Macmillan early in 1880, was envisaged as a Christmas release and is included in a series of literary gothic penned by Margaret Oliphant which came to be known as “Stories of the Seen and Unseen” (1876–1897). Set in...


  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Ghost stories
  • Novel and novella
  • Short stories
  • Supernatural
  • Victorian literature

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  • Colby, Robert, and Vineta Colby. 1962. A Beleaguered city: A Fable for the Victorian age. Nineteenth-Century Fiction 16: 283–301.

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  • Jay, Elisabeth. 1995. Mrs Oliphant: A fiction to herself. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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  • Oliphant, Margaret. 1880. A Beleaguered city. London: Macmillan and Co.

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Correspondence to Shantanu Majee .

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Majee, S. (2021). A Beleaguered City (Oliphant). In: The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women's Writing. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-02721-6

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-02721-6

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