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Walter Scott Edit Profile

Lawyer , novelist , poet

Sir Walter Scott was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world in the 19th century.He is now generally hailed as the inventor of the historical novel. His work was widely read and imitated across the whole of Europe throughout the Nineteenth-Century in particular and his influence is marked even in such writers as Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot and the Brontes.

Background

Walter Scott, born in College Wynd, Edinburgh, was the son of a lawyer. Educated first at Edinburgh High School and then University he was apprenticed to his father and called to the bar in 1792.

Education

Taught to read by his aunt Jenny, and learned from her the speech patterns and many of the tales and legends that characterised much of his work.

1783 - he was given private tuition by James Mitchell in arithmetic and writing, and learned from him the history of the Kirk with emphasis on the Covenanters. After finishing school he was sent to stay for six months with his aunt Jenny in Kelso, attending the local grammar school.

Career

An avid reader of poetry, history, drama and romances, the young Scott read widely in Italian, Spanish, Latin and German. In his twenties he was influenced particularly by the German Romantics and his first published works were translations of G.A. Bürger and Goethe. These were followed by the collections of border ballads and the narrative poems, written between 1805 and 1815, that first made him famous. By by this time he had also married Margaret Charlotte Charpenter, of a French Royalist family, and became sheriff-deputy of Selkirkshire, in 1797 and 1799 respectively.

In 1809 Scott became partners with John Ballanytne in a book-selling business and also, as an ardent political conservative, helped to found the Tory 'Quarterly Review'. In 1811 he built a residence at Abbotsford on the Tweed. By 1815, beginning to feel eclipsed as a poet by Byron, he turned to the novel form for which he is now chiefly famous.



A vast number of these were published, anonymously, over approximately the next fifteen years. In 1820 Scott was made a baronet and seven years later, in 1827, he first gave his name to his works. However, in 1826 the book-selling business became involved in the bankruptcy of another company, leaving Scott with debts of approximately £114,000. It is generally believed that some part at least of the profligacy of his writing is attributed to his desire to pay off these debts personally. His work, and along stay at Naples in 1831, undertaken in an attempt to regain his health, took up the rest of his life.

Works

  • historical novel

    • Ivanhoe

    • The Heart of Midlothian

    • The Bride of Lammermoor

  • novel

    • Rob Roy

    • Waverley

  • poem

    • The Lady of the Lake

Connections

While at the university Scott had become a friend of Adam Ferguson, the son of Professor Adam Ferguson who hosted literary salons. Scott met the blind poet Thomas Blacklock who lent him books as well as introducing him to James Macpherson's Ossian cycle of poems.