Walter Scott
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Walter ScottóWriter of Romance Novels, Poet, Historian

August 15, 1771, Edinburgh, Scotland, 10:00 LMT. (Source speculative) Died, September 21, 1832, Abbotsford, Roxburgh, Scotland

(Ascendant Libra with Moon in Libra; Sun conjunct Saturn in Leo with Venus also in Leo; Mercury conjunct Neptune in Virgo with Mars also in Virgo; Jupiter conjunct Pluto in Capricorn; Uranus in Taurus)


A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.

A rusty nail placed near a faithful compass, will sway it from the truth, and wreck the argosy.

Adversity is, to me at least, a tonic and a bracer.

Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life.

I can give you a six-word formula for success: "Think things through - then follow through."

One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name.

Success - keeping your mind awake and your desire asleep.

'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming, and look brighter when we come.

To all, to each, a fair good-night, And pleasing dreams, and slumbers light.

To be ambitious of true honor, of the true glory and perfection of our natures, is the very principle and incentive of virtue.

When thinking about companions gone, we feel ourselves doubly alone.


Sir (1771-1832), Scottish writer and poet and one of the greatest historical novelists.

Scott was born on August 15, 1771, in Edinburgh as the son of a solicitor and Anne, a daughter of professor of medicine. An early illness left him lame in the right leg, but he grew up to be a man over six feet and great physical endurance. Scott's interest in the old Border tales and ballads had early been awakened, and he devoted much of his leisure to the exploration of the Border country. He attended Edinburgh High School and studied at Edinburgh University arts and law. Scott was apprenticed to his father in 1786 and in 1792 he was called to the bar. In 1799 he was appointed sheriff depute of the county of Selkirk. In 1797 Scott married Margaret Charlotte Charpenter. They had five children.

In 1802-03 Scott's first major work, Minstrelsy Of The Scottish Border appeared. As a poet Scott rose into fame with the publication of The Lay Of The Last Minstrel (1805) about an old border country legend. It became a huge success and made him the most popular author of the day. It was followed by Marmion (1808), a historical romance in tetrameter. The Lady In The Lake appeared in 1810 and Rokeby in 1813. Scott's last major poem, The Lord Of The Isles, was published in 1815.

In 1806 Scott became clerk to the Court of Session in Edinburgh. To increase his income he started a printing and publishing business with his friend James Ballantyne. The enterprise crashed and Scott accepted all debts and tried to pay them off with his writings.

In the 1810s Scott published several novels. From this period date such works as Waverly (1814), dealing with the rebellion of 1745, which attempted to restore a Scottish family to the British throne. Scott continued with Guy Mannering (1815) and Tales Of My Landlord (1816). Rob Roy (1817) a portrait of one of Scotland's greatest heroes, sold out its edition of 10 000 copies in two weeks. The Heart of Midlothianappeared in 1818 followed by The Bride Of Lammermoor (1819) and A Legend Of Montrose (1819). Ivanhoe (1819) set in the reign of Richard I is perhaps the best known of Scott's novels today. In the 1820s appeared Kenilworth (1821), The Fortunes Of Nigel (1822), Peveril Of The Peak (1823), Quentin Durward (1823), The Talisman (1825), Woodstock (1826), The Surgeon's Daughter (1827), and Anne Of Geierstein (1829).

In 1820 Scott was created a baronet. A few years later he founded the Bannatyne Club, which published old Scottish documents. Scott visited France in 1826 to collect material for his Life Of Napoleon, which was published in 9 volumes in 1827. His wife, Lady Scott, died in 1826, and the author himself had a stroke in 1830. Next year Scott sailed to Italy. After his return to England in 1832, he died on September 21. Scott was buried beside his ancestors in Dryburgh Abbey.

Sir (August 14, 1771 - September 21, 1832) was a prolific Scottish historical novelist popular throughout Europe.
of Sir , by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer]]

Born in Edinburgh in 1771, the young survived a childhood bout of polio that would leave him lame in his right leg for the rest of his life. After studying law at Edinburgh University, he followed in his father's footsteps and became a lawyer in his native Scotland. Beginning at age 25 he started dabbling in writing, first translating works from German then moving on to poetry. In between these two phases of his literary career, he published a three-volume set of collected Scottish ballads, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. This was the first sign of his interest in Scotland and history from a literary standpoint. In 1797 he married Charlotte Carpenter, with whom he had five children.
After Scott had founded a printing press, his poetry, beginning with "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" in 1805, brought him fame. He published a number of other poems over the next ten years, including the popular "Lady of the Lake" in 1810, portions of which (translated into German) found their way into Schubert's Ave Maria.

When the press became embroiled in pecuniary difficulties, Scott set out, in 1814, to write a cash-cow. The result was Waverley, a novel which did not name its author. It was a tale of the last Jacobite rebellion in the United Kingdom, the "Forty-Five", and a considerable success. There followed a large set of novels in next five years, each the same general vein. Mindful of his reputation as a poet, he maintained the anonymous habit he had begun with Waverley, always publishing the novels under the name "Author of Waverley" or attributed as "Tales of..." with no author. Even when it was clear that there would be no harm in coming out into the open he maintained the façade, apparently out of a sense of fun. During this time the nickname "The Wizard of the North" was popularly applied to the mysterious best-selling writer. His identity as the author of the novels was widely rumoured, however.

In 1820 he broke away from writing about Scotland with Ivanhoe, a historical romance set in 12th-century England. It too was a runaway success and, as he did with his first novel, he unleashed a slew of books along the same lines. As his fame grew during this phase of his career, he was granted the title of baronet.
Beginning in 1825 he went into dire financial straits again, as his company nearly collapsed. That he was the author of his novels became general knowledge at this time as well. Rather than declare bankruptcy he placed his home, Abbotsford, and income into a trust belonging to his creditors, and proceeded to write his way out of debt. He kept up his prodigious output of fiction (as well as producing a non-fiction biography of Napoleon Bonaparte) through 1831. By then his health was failing, and he died at Abbotsford in 1832. Though not in the clear by then, his novels continued to sell, and he made good his debts from beyond the grave. He was buried in Dryburgh Abbey where nearby, fittingly, a large statue can be found of William Wallace -- one of Scotland's most romantic historical figures.
Scott was responsible for two major trends that carry on to this day. First, he popularized the historical novel; an enormous number of imitators (and imitators of imitators) would appear in the 19th century. It is a measure of Scott's influence that Edinburgh's central railway station, opened in 1854, is called Waverley Station. Second, his Scottish novels rehabilitated Highland culture after years in the shadows following the Jacobite rebellions. It is worth noting, however, that Scott was a Lowland Scot, and that his recreations of the Highlands were more than a little fanciful. It is known that he invented many clan tartans out of whole cloth, so to speak, for a visit by George IV to Scotland in 1822. Nevertheless, even though he is less popular in these days, the echoes of Waverley and its sequels reverberate still.
Scott was also responsible, through a series of pseudonymous letters published in the Edinburgh Weekly News in 1826, for retaining the right of Scottish banks to issue their own banknotes, which is reflected to this day by his continued appearance on the front of all notes issued by the Bank of Scotland.

Early Years
• 1771 - Scott is born in Edinburgh on 15 August, the ninth child (fourth surviving) of , Writer to the Signet, and Anne Rutherford.
• 1773 - Contracts polio which renders him lame in his right leg for the rest of his life. Sent to live with his grandfather Robert Scott at Sandyknowe in the Borders.
• 1775 - Briefly returns to Edinburgh following his grandfather's death but is sent to Bath in the summer to attempt a water cure. Visits London.
• 1776 - Returns from Bath in the summer and is sent back to Sandyknowe.
• 1778 - Returns to Edinburgh to live at his father's new house at 25 George Square.
• 1779 - Enters the High School of Edinburgh.
• 1783 - Leaves school and goes to Kelso to stay with his Aunt Janet (Jenny) Scott for a year. At Kelso Grammar School, meets his future friend and business partner, James Ballantyne.
• 1783-86 - Attends Edinburgh University.
• 1784-85 - Health deteriorates again and has to interrupt his studies. All treatments fail and is sent back to Kelso to live with his aunt for a year.

• 1786 - Apprenticed to his father's legal firm, but soon decides to aim for the Bar.
• 1786-7 - Visits the Highlands on business where he meets a client of his father, Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle, who had once fought a duel with Rob Roy MacGregor. Scott, only fifteen years of age, also meets Robert Burns. This remains the only meeting of the two great Scottish writers.
• 1789-92 - Resumes his studies and reads law at Edinburgh University.
• 1790 - Meets and falls in love with Williamina Belsches.
• 1792 - Qualifies as a lawyer and is admitted to the Faculty of Advocates.
• 1792-6 - Practises as an Advocate in Edinburgh.
• 1797 - Heartbroken when spurned by Williamina who marries William Forbes of Pitsligo. Visits the Lake District and meets Charlotte Carpentier whom he marries on Christmas Eve in Carlisle Cathedral. Moves to rented accomodation in George Street, Edinburgh.
• 1798 - Rents a cottage at Lasswade on the River Esk, where he will summer each year until 1804.
• 1799 - Scott's father dies in April. Birth of Scott's first daughter, Charlotte Sophia, on 24 October. On 16 December, Scott becomes Sheriff-Deputy of Selkirkshire, an office he holds until his death in 1832.
• 1801 - Birth of Scott's first son, Walter, on 28 October. In December, moves to 39 Castle Street which will remain his Edinburgh home until 1826.
• 1803 - Birth of Scott's second daughter, Anne, on 2 February.

Years of Prosperity
• 1804 - Moves with his family to Ashestiel near Galashiels, retaining 39 Castle Street as as a winter residence.
• 1805 - Enters into a secret business partnership with James Ballantyne. Birth of Scott's second son, Charles, on 24 December.
• 1806 - Becomes Principal Clerk to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, permitting him a steady income from the law without having to practise as an Advocate.
• 1809 - Becomes half-owner of John Ballantyne's publishing company.
• 1810 - Williamina Forbes dies at the age of 34.
• 1811 - Buys Cartley (nicknamed Clarty) Hole Farm. Extends the original four-room cottage and renames his new home Abbotsford. Scott and his family move into Abbotsford in 1812.
• 1813 - Collapse of John Ballantyne and Co. The company's assets are bought by Archbald Constable and Co. who remain Scott's publishers until 1826. Scott is rescued from impending bankruptcy by his patron, the Duke of Buccleuch (see Financial Hardship).
• 1816 - Inherits the fortune of his brother, Major Scott.
• 1818 - Accepts a baronetcy.
• 1819 - Scott's mother dies.
• 1820 - Elected President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
• 1822 - Plays a leading role in organizing the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh. This is the first visit of a Hanoverian monarch to Scotland.
• 1825 - Scott's eldest daughter Sophia marries John Gibson Lockhart, his future biographer. In November, Scott starts his famous journal. Suffers from gallstones and fearsfinancial ruin.

The Years of Decline
• 1826 - Becomes insolvent after the failure of his publishers, Archibald Constable, and his printers, James Ballantyne (see Financial Hardship). Pledges the future income from his publications to a trust in order to repay his creditors. The start of an excessive period of work, which is to affect his health. On 15 May, Scott's wife dies.
• 1827 - Finally admits to the authorship of the Waverley novels at a public dinner.
• 1828 - Makes preparations for a complete annotated edition of his works, later named the Magnum Opus.
• 1829 - Suffers from haemorrhages.
• 1830 - Declines the offer of a Civil List pension and the rank of Privy Councillor.
• 1831 - Suffers a stroke and then apoplectic paralysis. Goes to Italy with Lockhart to recuperate. On 15 December receives news of the death of his ten year old grandson Johnnie Lockhart.
• 1832 - Returns from the continent. Dies at Abbotsford on 21 September and is buried beside his wife in Dryburgh Abbey.

The Poet
• 1782 - Writes his earliest verse.
• 1796 - Publishes The Chase, and William and Helen, translations of two poems by Gottfried August Bürger.
• 1797 - Translates dramas from the German of Maier, Iffland, Schiller, and Von Babo, and ballads and drama by Goethe.
• 1799 - Publishes a translation of Goethe's drama Goetz von Berlichingen. The Ballantyne Press privately prints Scott's ballad 'The Eve of St John' and An Apology for Tales of Terror, containing three of Scott's translations from German.
• 1800 - Collects, edits and reworks material for a ballad collection called the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border to be published by Ballantyne. Matthew Gregory Lewis's anthology Tales of Wonder contains three original ballads by Scott.
• 1802 - First edition of the Minstrelsy.
• 1803 - An expanded 3 volume edition of the Minstrelsy is published.
• 1805 - The Lay of the Last Minstrel is published to critical and popular acclaim.
• 1807 - The Edinburgh Publisher Archibald Constable pays Scott 1,000 guineas for a poem he had not yet written: Marmion went on to sell 28,000 copies by 1811. Completes Joseph Strutt's historical romance Queenhoo Hall. Writes 'Essay on Chivalry' for the Encylopaedia Britannica.
• 1809 - Involved in the foundation of the Quarterly, a Tory rival to the Edinburgh Review.
• 1810 - The Lady of the Lake is published and proves even more popular than Marmion, selling 25,000 copies in eight months.
• 1811 - Publishes The Vision of Don Roderick.
• 1812 - Has a new poetic rival in Lord Byron, whom he meets in 1813.
• 1813 - Rokeby and The Bridal of Triermain are published. Is offered and declines the Poet Laureateship.
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The Novelist
• 1814 - First novel Waverley published anonymously. Becomes the most successful novel ever published in English.
• 1815 - Publishes second novel Guy Mannering and The Lord of the Isles, his last major poetic work. During a trip to Waterloo and Paris, writes The Field of Waterloo.
• 1816 - The Antiquary and the first series of Tales of My Landlord are published, consisting of Old Mortality and The Black Dwarf. Also publishes Paul's Letters to His Kinsfolk, imaginary letters describing his travels in Belgium and France.
• 1817 - Writes Rob Roy and publishes Harold the Dauntless, his last long poem.
• 1818 - The Second Series of Tales of My Landlord (The Heart of Midlothian) is published.
• 1819 - Suffering from gallstones, dictates A Legend of Montrose and The Bride of Lammermoor which are later published as Tales of My Landlord, Third Series. Also dictates Ivanhoe which is published at the end of the year and is enormously successful, selling 10,000 copies in a fortnight.
• 1820 - The Monastery and The Abbot are published.
• 1821 - Kenilworth and The Pirate are published.
• 1823 - Peveril of the Peak, Quentin Durward and St. Ronan's Well are published.
• 1824 - Redgauntlet is published.
• 1825 - Tales of the Crusaders, The Betrothed and The Talisman are published.
• 1826 - Leads a successful campaign through The Letters of Malachi Malagrowther to preserve the Scottish banknote. Publication of Woodstock.
• 1827 - The Life of Napoleon and Chronicles of the Canongate are published.
• 1828 - The Fair Maid of Perth and the First Series of Tales of a Grandfather are published.
• 1829 - Anne of Geierstein and the Second Series of Tales of a Grandfather are published.
• 1830 - Writes, at J.G. Lockhart's suggestion, the Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft. Third Series of Tales of a Grandfather.
• 1831 - Fourth Series of Tales of a Grandfather and Fourth Series of Tales of My Landlord (Count Robert of Paris and Castle Dangerous) are published.


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