Guest authors. Classics

#Guestclassicauthor Sir Walter Scott. Scotland, History, Legend and Everything in Between.

Hi all:

As I told you on Tuesday, I’m helping in the selection process of a Historical Novel Award (the M.M. Bennetts Award) and I thought that gave me the perfect opportunity to share one of the posts I had dedicated in my previous blog to a writer who fits nicely in the genre. Sir Walter Scott.


Trossachs. Sir Walter Scott based his 'the Lady of the Lake' on this area.
Trossachs. Sir Walter Scott based his ‘the Lady of the Lake’ on this area.

It is Friday and it’s guest author day. I seemed to have to write about Sir Walter Scott as he kept appearing everywhere. When I was writing last week’s post on Frederick Douglass, he chose his free-man name by adopting that of one of the characters in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Lady of the Lake’. I was writing about Jorge Manrique, who was a Spanish knight and poet, and that made me think about knights, novels… and Sir Walter Scott. And today somebody mentioned Robbie Burns on the radio, and that made me think of Scotland and… So here he is.

Henry Raeburn's portrait of Sir Walter Scott and his dogs
Henry Raeburn’s portrait of Sir Walter Scott and his dogs

Sir Walter Scott (he was knighted by George the IV and became First Baronet) was born on the 15th of August 1771. His father was a successful solicitor and his grandfather (on his mother’s side, John Rutherford), had been Professor of Physiology at the University of Edinburgh. He contracted poliomyelitis when he was only a few months old and spent plenty of time at his grandparents’ farm in the Scottish Borders, (Tweeddale) where he showed an interest in history and the local customs.

He attended the Edinburgh High School and then with his father’s encouragement studied law at Edinburgh University (although according to one source he never took the degree exams as he only wanted to become an advocate, but passed the bar exam in 1792). Although he persevered with the legal job, he started writing poetry when he was 25 (he initially translated German poems and works). In 1797 he married Charlotte Carpenter, the daughter of a French refugee. They were happily married until her death (in 1826). They had four children. Their first born died when he was only one day old. In 1803 he published a three-volume set of collected Scottish ballads, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders. This was followed by many narrative poems that became extremely popular, like The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), Marmion (1808), The Lady of the Lake (1810), Rokeby (1813) and The Lord of the Isles (1815). His depictions of the Scottish landscape, stories and customs helped to put Scotland on the radar and it became a touristic destination, fueling a fashion for all Scottish things.

He became Sheriff-Depute of Selkirk and a Principal Clerk to the Court of Session at Edinburgh. He continued to publish his own poems, reviewed, edited, set up a theatre in Edinburgh and helped fund the Quarterly Review in 1809.

Despite his great fame as poet (he declined the Poet Laureate in 1813 suggesting Robert Southey for the post) it would be his novels that would make him reach new heights in esteem and popularity. He published (anonymously) Waverley in 1814 (subtitled Sixty Years Since). This novel has been credited with creating the genre of the historical novel. Other novels dealing also with the Highlands and Jacobitism and forming part of what has become known as ‘the Waverley novels’ are Rob Roy (1817), The Heart of Midlothian (1818) and Redgauntlet (1824).

Sir Walter Scott's home 'Abbotsford'
Sir Walter Scott’s home ‘Abbotsford’

He associated with Ballantyne’s in his publishing company, and was badly affected by the bank crisis of 1825 (yes, this is not a new thing). He also had difficulties due to the financing of the built of his home at Abottsford. I have read variously that the debt amounted to between £114000 to £140000 (a fortune at the time). Rather than declare himself bankrupt, he placed his home and income into a trust belonging to his creditors and carried on writing his way out of his debts. He suffered a series of strokes and died on 21st September 1832. It seems that he had not fully paid his debt at the time but with the royalties from his books this was settled shortly after his death. He was buried at Dryburgh Abbey with his ancestors.

Some of his other novels include: Ivanhoe (set in England, 1819, probably the best known of them all), The Bride of Lammermmoor (also in 1819), 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).

Sir Walter Scott was also one of the first authors to become internationally renowned and admired in other countries, and he toured often.

He was not only prolific, hard-working and principled, but very modest. I loved this comment that I felt I had to share:

While on holiday in Shetland he wrote:

…it would be a fine situation to compose an ode to the Genius of Sumburgh-head,
or an Elegy upon a Cormorant – or to have written or spoken madness of any kind
in prose or poetry. But I gave vent to my excited feelings in a more simple way;
and sitting gentle down on the steep green slope which led to the beach, I e’en
slid down a few hundred feet, and found the exercise quite an adequate vent to
my enthusiasm, I recommend this exercise (time and place suiting) to all my brother
scribblers, and I have no doubt it will save much effusion of Christian ink.

(I must thank Stuart Kelly at the Scottish Poetry Library for sharing it in his page. Link below)

Sir Walter Scott on poetry
Sir Walter Scott on poetry




His digital archive at the University of Edinburgh.

BBC2. Writing Scotland:

Website for Abbotsford, his home:

Encyclopaedia Britannica:

His page at the Scottish Poetry Library:

SpartacusSchool net:

The Literature network:


His books in (there a few free versions and many cheap ones):

And in

This is his author page at the Project Gutenberg where you can find and download free e-books:

Some of the above links, like his digital archive, contain also online links to his works.


The header is from:

And the quote above came from:

For more pictures and information about his home:

And I leave you also an article quoting Stuart Kelly talking about Sir Walter Scott’s importance:

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and if you have, please remember to like, share, comment and CLICK! Never stop reading!

By OlgaNunez

I was born in Barcelona and after living in the UK for many years have now returned home. I teach English, volunteer at Sants 3 Ràdio, a local radio station, I'm a writer, translator (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and I'm a medical doctor and worked in Forensic Psychiatry many years. I also have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and Film, and a Masters in Criminology. I've always loved books and apart from writing them I review them often.
I write a bit of everything, check my books for more information and my about page for links.
My blog is bilingual, English and Spanish.

12 replies on “#Guestclassicauthor Sir Walter Scott. Scotland, History, Legend and Everything in Between.”

A prolific author with a real sense of social justice a displayed in his novels like Ivanhoe, Rob Roy etc.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx

Thanks, David. One of these writers bigger than life and so were his stories. He did a lot for the historical novel genre, and as I’m right in the middle of reading historical novel, I thought it was well-deserved. Have a lovely weekend. Big hugs!

Thanks for sharing, Olga. It’s definitely time for me to go back to Scott’s books.

Thanks, Sarah! Plenty of inspiration there too! Have a great weekend!

Good post, Olga. Abbotsford is well worth a visit. I took part in a theatrical performance a couple of years ago in the library, which was a stunning setting. He was a collector of antiquities – greedily so – which are displayed throughout the house and grounds.

Thanks Mary. I must have been a great experience. I love Scotland and I love antiques so I must add it to my list for the next trip (whenever that might be). Have a lovely weekend!

A good choice in Scott. Although I have only ever read Ivanhoe, and Rob Roy, the latter remains a great read to this day, and a real insight into some of the injustices abounding during the English occupation of Scotland.
Best wishes, Pete.

Thanks, Pete. His work brought many of these issues back to light and brought a renewed international interest in Scotland, for sure. I used to read a lot of abridged versions of his work (when I was much younger) translated to Spanish but I haven’t read many in English. Perhaps something to catch up on in my next trip to Scotland…:) Have a good weekend.

Dear Olga, I very much enjoyed this post. It’s so charmingly written. I was simply never taught much about the classics (and less about the authors), so I devour these posts. Have a fabulous Friday. Mega hugs.

Thanks so much, Teagan. I’m surprised at how long it’s been since I shared the original posts. I know a little bit about some of the Classic Spanish authors but very little about the rest and even the ones I think I know something about manage to surprise me. Looking forward to the next chapter in your serial/novel tomorrow. Have a lovely weekend.

Hello Olga, Walter Scott is a great author to feature. I loved reading about him and the many twists and turns of his life. That last quote is beautiful. Thank you! 😀 xx

Thanks, Vashti. I’m trying to revisit some of the posts about classics because they don’t get a lot of attention these days and they are always fascinating. Some things don’t change very much. It’s a lovely quote indeed. 🙂

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