This story tells the experiences of a soul arriving in the Afterlife, awaking in a new world and making her discoveries with the wonder of a child.
A Little Pilgrim is the first of five stories in the Little Pilgrim series. (See the link below for more information.)
Biographical and other notes
This story was inspired by the death of Margaret Oliphant's close friend and neighbour Eleanor Clifford, known to Mrs Oliphant's children as Aunt Nelly. She had spent her life taking care of others, and despite her own difficulties had never lost her simple faith which (in the story) takes her straight to heaven.
In one vignette beginning on page 30, the little Pilgrim thinks lovingly of her friend on Earth, clearly a reference to Mrs Oliphant, and then meets her friend's daughter Margaret - Mrs Oliphant's beloved daughter Maggie who had died at age 10. (Note the Oliphant eyes: "brown and golden as if they were filled with light".)
A translation of the Dante quotation on the title page reads: "Pure and prepared to climb unto the stars." [Per Digital Dante website, Mandelbaum translation.]
British publishing information
Periodical: Macmillan's Magazine May 1882
First edition: Macmillan (same title, collected with The Little Pilgrim Goes Up Higher) 1882