The Library Window


Short Fiction

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In Stories of the Seen and Unseen      or second source:   1 volume   

The Story

A young girl, the narrator of this story, is sent to spend the summer with her Aunt Mary in the university town of St Rule's. The girl is recovering from a bad illness and spends much of her time indoors, in a deep recessed window which looks out onto the back of the university library. One of the library windows is a little different from the rest, and some believe it is a false window - either painted or built up - whereas others believe it is real.

One day as the girl sits and dreams, she becomes aware that there is someone in the window - a man busy writing; yet a few minutes later the window is blank again. The reader accompanies the teenage narrator through a range of emotions as she gradually becomes obsessed by the mysterious window and the man she feels drawn to. Finally a crisis point is reached when she enters the library rooms herself.

This is one of Margaret Oliphant's finest stories of the Seen and Unseen.

Biographical and other notes

The town of "St Rule's" is based on the university town of Saint Andrews in Fife, which Mrs Oliphant visited every year for several weeks. She had many friends there including two of her closest friends, Principal Tulloch of St Mary's College and his wife Jane. The Principal's House is located within the quad which is bounded on one side by the old college Library of this story.

British publishing information

Periodical:   Blackwood's Magazine   Jan 1896

First edition:   Blackwood and Sons (collected in Stories of the Seen and Unseen) 1902

Series and Themes

A cursed diamond ring
Children and teenagers
Stories of the Seen and Unseen
The ancient kingdom of Fife

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