Sir Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott was responsible for a revival of Highland nationalism, Click for larger imageSir Walter Scott was a prolific novelist, whose writing combined ordinary people and historical events, thus mixing cultures and classes. He is credited with the creation of the historical novel genre.

Scott began his career as a lawyer. From 1799 to 1832, he was Sheriff of Kelkirkshire, a position that gave him the time and financial freedom to write. Scott was made a baronet in 1820, and two years later directed George IV's state visit to Scotland.

In 1797, at the age of 26, Scott married Charlotte Margaret Carpenter. He was struck by her beauty and grace when they first met in Gilsland, during a tour of the English lakes, and quickly decided to ask for her hand. In a letter requesting his parents blessing of the marriage, Scott wrote,

"Without flying into raptures, for I must assure you that my judgment as well as my affections are consulted upon this occasion, then, I may safely assure you, that her temper is sweet and cheerful, her understanding good, and, what I know will give you pleasure, her principles of religion very serious."

In Edinburgh, the couple indulged their love of theater, and when they later moved to a cottage outside the city, they cultivated a garden and Scott's own poetry:

    Sweet are the paths, O passing sweet,
    By Esk's fair streams that run,
    O'er airy steep, thro' copsewood deep
    Impervious to the sun ...

Those who knew him were impressed with Scott's character. Sir John Stoddart met the novelist during a tour of Scotland and remarked of him: "a man of native kindness and cultivated talent, passing the intervals of a learned profession amidst scenes highly favourable to his poetic inspirations, not in churlish and rustic solitude, but in the daily exercise of the most precious sympathies as a husband, a father, and a friend." Although troubled by debt for much of his life, Scott was known as an hospitable entertainer. Lady Scott, his wife for twenty-nine years, of whom Scott wrote, "faithful and true companion of my fortunes, good and bad, for so many years," died in May of 1826. Businessman, historian, novelist, lawyer, poet and familyman, Sir Walter Scott continued writing all his life, despite failing health in the years before his death in 1832.


As the creator of the historical novel, Sir Walter Scott's influence on literature is considerable. Scott began his writing career as poet, editing a book of Scottish ballads and later publishing his own. He moved to epic poems, which are gaining respect today although in his time were considered inferior to those of his contemporaries. He was also a respected biographer, and wrote editions on Dryden and Swift which remained definitive for decades. His travel memoir, Travels in Greece was published in 1920.

Although his range was considerable, as a writer, Sir Walter Scott is best known for his novels. The stories are set in his homeland, sometimes depicting Scott's contemporary Scotland, and sometimes medieval Scotland. They are romantic and mythic, depicting culture clashes alongside affairs of the heart.

Two have recently been adapted for the screen. Rob Roy, in 1995, starred Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange. The epic Ivanhoe, popular in literature studies, was made into an A&E miniseries.

Novels by Sir Walter Scott:

Ivanhoe (1791)
Guy Mannering (1815)
The Antiquary (1816)
Old Mortality (1816)
Rob Roy (1817)
A Legend of Montrose (1819)
The Heart of Midlothian (1819)
The Bride of Lammermoor (1819)
The Monastery (1820)
The Abbot (1820)
Kenilworth (1821)
The Pirate (1822)
The Fortunes of Nigel (1822)
Peveril of the Peak (1822)
Quentin Durward (1823)
Redgauntlet (1824)
St Ronan's Well (1824)
The Betrothed (1825)
The Talisman (1825)
Woodstock (1826)
Anne of Geierstein (1828)
The Fair Maid of Perth (1828)


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