In the nineteenth century the British Empire was vast, and there were numerous travel books and articles written by explorers, adventurers, anthropologists, and others. Most of these books and articles had of course a British point of view, describing the 'quaint' customs of 'savage' peoples. In this little story Mrs Oliphant turns the tables by describing a visit to England as chronicled in the diary of a despotic Lama of Tibet.
Biographical and other notes
This story was inspired by a recent visit of the Shah of Persia to Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. Margaret Oliphant lived in Windsor at that time and probably witnessed some of the public ceremonials.
The story is represented as quoting extracts from the journals of the Lama of Tibet. Coincidentally a year later in 1874, the real-life Shah of Persia did publish his own journals of his 1873 visit: The Diary of HM The Shah of Persia During His Tour Through Europe in A.D. 1873.