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The Auld Alliance

Scottish Pub - Paris

Sir Walter Scott

Famous for the series of Waverley novels, SIR WALTER SCOTT is widely held as being the first exponent of the historical novel.

Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh in 1771 and educated at Edinburgh High School and University. He was called to the bar in 1792. Having developed an early interest in the old Border tales and ballads, he spent much of his free time exploring the Border country.

In 1796 he published, anonymously, a translation of Bürger's 'Lenore' and 'Der Wilde Jãger'. Within a year after being rejected by the woman with whom he was passionately in love, Scott married someone else. From 1799 until his death he was Sheriff of Selkirkshire, and from 1806 to 1830 held another well-paid office as a Clerk to the Court of Session.

In 1802-3 his three volumes of The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border appeared; and in 1805 his first considerable original work, the romantic poem, 'The Lay of the Last Ministrel'. In 1809 he entered into partnership with John Ballantyne in a bookselling business, and in 1811 purchased Abbotsford on the Tweed, a reflection of his expensive ambition to live as a landed magnate. In 1813 Scott refused the offer of the laureateship, recommending Southey for the honour instead.

"Disbanded" by John Pettie, Dundee City Art Gallery

Eclipsed by Byron as a popular poet, Scott turned his attention to the novel as a means of giving reign to his talents. The novels - initially anonymous - start with Waverley and include Rob Roy, The Bride of Lammermoor, Ivanhoe, The Pirate, Peveril of the Peak, Redgauntlet and Castle Dangerous. Scott was created a baronet in 1820 and avowed the authorship of the novels in 1827.

In 1825, James Ballantyne " Co. were involved in a bankruptcy. Scott shouldered the whole burden himself and spent the close of his life working at an extraordinary pace to repay his creditors, who were eventually paid in full by the posthumous sale of his copyrights. He died in 1832.

source: Penguin Classics