Margaret Oliphant’s Literary History was an ambitious project. Her survey ranged across all genres, including poetry, fiction and criticism, and even ventured into history and philosophy. Oliphant was not an advocate of women’s rights, although the circumstances of her life suggest she had every reason to be one. A published writer from a very early age, she soon found herself supporting her husband and children, and her alcoholic brother, with the income from her novels. When Oliphant moves on to discuss Wollstonecraft’s Rights of Woman, a work which she seems to have read for the first time in preparation for her Literary History, there is an evident sense of surprise at the mildness of its appeal. Essentially, her argument rested on the fact that woman was destined for the production of children, and therefore unable to undertake a sustained career.