Margaret Oliphant Wilson was born in Wallyford, near Musselburgh, Scotland, the daughter of a customs house official. The family moved to Liverpool, England, when she was a child. She began writing as a teenager. In 1852, she married her cousin Francis Oliphant, an artist, and turned to writing to help support them and their seven children. Her first published work was Passages in the Life of Margaret Maitland (1849), and she became a regular contributor to Blackwood's Literary Magazine. Her husband died in 1859 while on a family trip to Italy, leaving Margaret pregnant. John Blackwood sent her funds to enable her to return to England and to relocate to Elie in Fife. She wrote more than 100 novels, biographies, translations, travel books, and collections of short stories during her prolific career. Her best-remembered works are the group of novels known as The Chronicles of Carlingford, which consisted of The Rector and the Doctor’s Family (1863), Salem Chapel (1863), The Perpetual Curate (1864), Miss Majoribanks (1866), and Phoebe Junior (1876). Many of her popular works focused on Scottish life, including The Minister’s Wife (1869) and Kirsteen (1890). She also wrote a volume of supernatural stories, Tales of the Seen and Unseen, and an autobiography that was published posthumously in 1899.