Oliphant, Laurence

Oliphant, Laurence

(ŏl`ĭfənt), 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 ElginElgin, James Bruce, 8th earl of
, 1811–63, British statesman, son of the 7th earl. He served as governor of Jamaica (1842–46) and in 1847 was appointed governor-general of Canada.
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. 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 HarrisHarris, Thomas Lake,
1823–1906, American Christian mystic. Born in England, he was brought to the United States as a child. In 1845 he was called to the pulpit of the Fourth Universalist Society, in New York City, but three years later, deeply impressed by spiritualism,
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 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.

Bibliography

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

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