Oliphant, Laurence

Oliphant, Laurence ŏl´ĭfənt [key], 1829–88, British author, b. Capetown, South Africa. Although he wrote some valuable travel books, he is probably best remembered for his fascinating life. The son of a judge, he became a lawyer and later secretary to Lord Elgin . He was a correspondent for the London Times during the Crimean War, went with Elgin to China, was an associate of Garibaldi, and traveled all over the world. In 1867 he became a disciple of Thomas Lake Harris in a religious community at Brocton, N.Y. His writings include several travel books, notably A Journey to Katmandu (1852) two novels, Piccadilly (1866) and Altiora Peto (1883) an autobiography, Episodes in a Life of Adventure (1887) and Scientific Religion (1888). He and his first wife, Alice Le Strange, wrote a curious book, Sympneumata: Evolutionary Forces Now Active in Man (1885), inspired by Harris and supposedly dictated by a spirit. After Alice's death Oliphant married (1888) Rosamond Dale Owen, granddaughter of Robert Owen. They established a colony of Jews in Palestine.

See her My Perilous Life in Palestine (1928) biography by his cousin, Margaret Oliphant (1891) study by V. and R. A. Colby (1966).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.