1. How is this autobiography different from other life accounts you have read? What seem to be its chief features?
2. What seems to be the intended audience of the Autobiography? What type of narration would Oliphant have assumed her audience would desire? To what extent does she fulfill their expectations?
3. What social/familial world does the Autobiography evoke? In what ways do you think Margaret Oliphant's views of the world may have been characteristic of many middle-class Scottish persons/women of her day, and in what ways does she seem to you remarkable?
4. What might have been the purpose of the Autobiography for Oliphant herself? (grief narrative)
5. How do you think the effect of the Autobiography was altered in the first edition by the excision of the introductory and personal passages in favor of reflections on her literary production?
6. In what ways does this account of Oliphant's private emotions reinforce or explain some of the proccupations of "Old Lady Mary," "The Open Door" and "The Library Window"?
7. What are the respective advantages of autobiography and fiction for the presentation of her central preoccupations?
8. What seem to you the virtues of the Autobiography as a literary document? Or alternatively, limitations?
9. What observations does Oliphant make on other literary figures of her day? To what extent may her reactions be self-protective, or alternately, insightful? (e. g., on Bronte, Eliot, Tropllope, Austen) How does she characterize her relationship to her own writing?
10. To what extent might Oliphant have benefited from authorship under less stressful and market-oriented circumstances?
11. What seem to you significant or unusal features of her memories of her original family--brothers, parents--and her relationship to them?
12. What seem to have been significant features of her courtship and marriage, from Oliphant's point of view?
13. How would you characterize Oliphant's relationship to her own children? Do you think this was always helpful for the children themselves? What does she claim was her closest life tie? (to her daughter Maggie)
14. Were her responses to daughters and sons gender-linked, and if so, did their occupations or circumstances entirely justify this difference?
15. What seems to have been Oliphant's mode of dealing with grief? What were some of her beliefs about death and God, and do you think these aided her in absorbing successive deaths?
16. How might you characterize Oliphant's temperament and values succinctly? What are some reasons why the author of Autobiography was able to become a major author of her day? As a reader, do you find yourself liking/respecting her?
17. How would you characterize Oliphant's sense of extended family relationships? What kind of social group(s) did she seem to enjoy?
18. What aspects of writing does she seem to prefer or enjoy? (e. g,. rhythm, word choice, autobiographical features)
19. What regrets does Oliphant seem to have had about her life work? (132) Do you think she had a high sense of self-esteem, and if not, what factors may ahve contributed to this? (137)
20. What kind of life style does she seem to have enjoyed? (love of excitement and change) Were there unusual features to this? (love of variety and trust in the future, 135)
21. What seems to have been her sense of her own social presence? (131)
22. Do any comments in the Autobiography suggest attitudes toward the supernatural?
23. What effect of her narrative is produced by a shifted sense of audience? (to memoir and travel account)
24. Why typies of music did Oliphant like?
25. What difficulties does she see in writing an honest autobiography and self-assessment?
26. Do you think these are valid observations? (130) Are there aspects of her life which she herself omits?
27. Do you find Oliphant's view of George Eliot fair? In general, is she fair in her view of others?
28. How would you assess Oliphant's character, as presented in the Autobiography? (energetic and decisive, ambitious, possesses a strong sense of duty, feels self-pity)