It was but a short time before the death of Miss Octavia Hill that one of her sisters succeeded, with much difficulty, in convincing her that some account of her life would be necessary to satisfy the public demand.
On realising this fact, she expressed a strong wish that the family should keep the details of such a memoir in their own hands; and she afterwards made a special request that the final decision as to what should be published, and what suppressed, should rest with me.
It will, therefore, be understood that I am rather the editor than the author of this book. The most important part of this Memoir will be found in the letters; and it is by my express wish that they are printed in larger type than the explanations which link them together.
But even those explanations are only in a limited sense my own work. All I have done is to weave together statements made by my wife and her sisters, a paper left by their Mother, and, in the very early part, the recollections of Octavia's early playmate, Miss Margaret Howitt.
Only in those chapters which cover the period from 1866 to 1877 have I trusted, to any considerable