The Whirl of Youth


Short Fiction

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In A Widow's Tale      or second source:   1 volume   

The Story

John's first love is painting, and his works are becoming known. He is beginning his second year at Oxford, determined to do better than the first year. However the "young lady" at the nearby pub is like a magnet, drawing him there, although he is aware of two distinct dangers:  of being sent down from Oxford; or even worse, of getting trapped!

This is the third story in the "John R" series - see the link below for more information.

Biographical and other notes

Margaret Oliphant's sons attended Oxford in the mid-1870s to early 1880s, and had their troubles, especially the eldest son Cyril:  he was prone to drink and seems to have been prone to unacceptable relationships too. This story was written two or three years after Cyril's death in 1890.

The general sketch of the students and their interests (and their slang) provides a fascinating glimpse of Oxford at that period. (See also the novel He That Will Not When He May, set in part at Oxford.)

British publishing information

Periodical:   National Observer   7-28 Oct 1893

First edition:   William Blackwood and Sons (collected in A Widow's Tale) 1898

Series and Themes

The John R series
Artists and writers
Class issues in love, marriage, family
Male central character

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