Mrs. Oliphant was a 19th century Scottish novelist, biographer and historian. She is best known for her depiction of small town life. After the death of her husband she began writing over 100 books as a means of supporting her children and those of her brother. A Beleaguered City is subtitled A Narrative of Certain Events in the City of Semur, in the Department of the Haute Bourgogne. Oliphant is known for writing horror stories and in this one an entire city is taken over by the dead loved ones of its inhabitants.