This little travel article written in fictional form was closely modelled after Mrs Oliphant's own journey to Italy in 1859. For the modern reader, the number and variety of conveyances necessary to travel in segments from London to Florence may be surprising.
Biographical and other notes
Throughout 1858, Margaret Oliphant's husband Frank was becoming gradually more ill from tuberculosis. In January 1859 their family (Margaret, Frank, two children, and their nursemaid) travelled to Florence, hoping that a milder climate would help Frank. They later moved to Rome, where he died on 20 October 1859.