Scott, (Sir) Walter

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SCOTT, (Sir) Walter

Nationality: Scottish. Born: Edinburgh, 15 August 1771; spent part of his childhood in the Border country. Education: The High School, Edinburgh; University of Edinburgh; studied law: admitted to the Faculty of Advocates, 1792. Family: Married Charlotte Charpentier in 1797 (died 1826); four children. Career: Sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire, 1799-1832; joined James Ballantyne in 1804 as a partner in his printing company which went bankrupt in 1826, involving Scott in the discharge of its debts for the rest of his life; clerk of the Court of Session, 1806-30; helped found the Quarterly Review, 1809; built and lived at Abbotsford from 1812; founding president, Bannatyne Club, 1823. Awards: Created a baronet, 1820. Died: 21 September 1832.



Poetical Works, edited by J. G. Lockhart. 12 vols., 1833-34; edited by J. Logie Robertson, 1904.

Miscellaneous Prose Works, edited by J. G. Lockhart. 28 vols., 1834-36; 2 additional vols., 1871.

Short Stories. 1934.

Selected Poems, edited by Thomas Crawford. 1972.

The Works of Sir Walter Scott: With an Introduction and Bibliography. 1995.

Short Stories

Tales of the Crusaders (The Betrothed, The Talisman). 1825.

Chronicles of the Canongate: First Series: The Highland Widow, The Two Drovers, The Surgeon's Daughter. 1827; Second Series: The Fair Maid of Perth, 1828.


Waverley; or, "Tis Sixty Years Since. 1814; edited by ClaireLamont, 1981.

Guy Mannering; or, The Astrologer. 1815.

The Antiquary. 1816.

The Black Dwarf, Old Mortality. 1816; Old Mortality edited by Angus Calder, 1975.

Rob Roy. 1817.

The Heart of Mid-Lothian. 1818; edited by Claire Lamont, 1982.

The Bride of Lammermoor; A Legend of Montrose. 1819.

Ivanhoe: A Romance. 1819.

The Monastery. 1820.

The Abbot; or, The Heir of Avenel. 1820.

Kenilworth: A Romance. 1821; edited by David Daiches, 1966.

The Pirate. 1821.

The Fortunes of Nigel. 1822.

Peveril of the Peak. 1823.

Quentin Durward. 1823; edited by M.W. Thomas and G. Thomas, 1966.

St. Ronan's Well. 1823.

Redgauntlet: A Tale of the Eighteenth Century. 1824; edited by Kathryn Sutherland, 1985.

Woodstock; or, The Cavalier. 1826.

My Aunt Margaret's Mirror, The Tapestried Chamber, Death of the Laird's Jock, A Scene at Abbotsford. 1829.

Anne of Geierstein; or, The Maiden of the Mist. 1829.

Waverley Novels (Scott's final revision). 48 vols., 1829-33.

Count Robert of Paris, Castle Dangerous. 1832.


Goetz of Berlichingen, with The Iron Hand, by Goethe. 1799.

Guy Mannering; or, The Gipsy's Prophecy, with Daniel Terry, music by Henry Bishop and others, from the novel by Scott (produced 1816). 1816.

Halidon Hill: A Dramatic Sketch from Scottish History. 1822.

MacDuff's Cross, in A Collection of Poems, edited by JoannaBaillie. 1823.

The House of Aspen (produced 1829). In Poetical Works, 1830.

Auchindrane; or, The Ayrshire Tragedy (produced 1830). In The Doom of Devorgoil: Auchindrane, 1830.

The Doom of Devorgoil: A Melo-Drama; Auchindrane; or, The Ayrshire Tragedy. 1830.


The Chase, and William and Helen: Two Ballads from the German of Gottfried Augustus Bürger. 1796.

The Eve of Saint John: A Border Ballad. 1800.

The Lay of the Last Minstrel. 1805.

Ballads and Lyrical Pieces. 1806.

Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field. 1808.

The Lady of the Lake. 1810.

The Vision of Don Roderick. 1811.

Rokeby. 1813.

The Bridal of Triermain; or, The Vale of St. John, in Three Cantos. 1813.

The Lord of the Isles. 1815.

The Field of Waterloo. 1815.

The Ettrick Garland, Being Two Excellent New Songs, with JamesHogg. 1815.

Harold the Dauntless. 1817.

New Love-Poems, edited by Davidson Cook. 1932.


Paul's Letters to His Kinsfolk. 1816.

The Visionary. 1819.

Provincial Antiquities of Scotland. 2 vols., 1826.

The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte: Emperor of the French, with a Preliminary View of the French Revolution. 9 vols., 1827.

Tales of a Grandfather, Being Stories Taken from Scottish History.9 vols., 1827-29.

Miscellaneous Prose Works. 6 vols., 1827.

Religious Discourses by a Layman. 1828.

The History of Scotland. 2 vols., 1829-30.

Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft. 1830.

Tales of a Grandfather, Being Stories Taken from the History of France. 3 vols., 1830.

Letters Addressed to Rev. R. Polwhele, D. Gilbert, F. Douce. 1832.

Letters Between James Ellis and Scott. 1850.

Journal 1825-32, edited by D. Douglas. 2 vols., 1890; edited by W.E. K. Anderson, 1972.

Familiar Letters, edited by D. Douglas. 2 vols., 1894.

The Letters of Scott and Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe to Robert Chambers, 1821-45. 1903.

The Private Letter-Books, edited by W. Partington. 1930.

Sir Walter's Postbag: More Stories and Sidelights from the Collection in the Brotherton Library, edited by W. Partington. 1932.

Some Unpublished Letters from the Collection in the Brotherton Library, edited by J. A. Symington. 1932.

The Letters, edited by Herbert Grierson. 12 vols., 1932-37; notes and index by James C. Corson, 1979.

The Correspondence of Scott and Charles Robert Maturin, edited by F. E. Ratchford and W. H. McCarthy. 1937.

Private Letters of the Seventeenth Century, edited by D. Grant. 1948.

The Prefaces to the Waverley Novels, edited by Mark A. Weinstein. 1978.

Scott on Himself: A Selection of the Autobiographical Writings, edited by David Hewitt. 1981.

Editor, An Apology for Tales of Terror. 1799.

Editor, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. 2 vols., 1802; edited by Alfred Noyes, 1908.

Editor, Sir Tristrem: A Metrical Romance, by Thomas of Ercildoune. 1804.

Editor, Original Memoirs Written During the Great Civil War, by Sir H. Slingsby and Captain Hodgson. 1804.

Editor, The Works of John Dryden. 18 vols., 1808 (Life of Dryden published separately, 1808, edited by Bernard Kreissman, 1963).

Editor, Memoirs of Captain George Carleton. 1808.

Editor, Queenhoo-Hall: A Romance, and Ancient Times: A Drama, by Joseph Strutt. 4 vols., 1808.

Editor, Memoirs of Robert Cary, Earl of Monmouth, and Fragmenta Regalia, by Sir Robert Naunton. 1808.

Editor, A Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts. 13 vols., 1809-15.

Editor, English Minstrelsy, Being a Collection of Fugitive Poetry. 2 vols., 1810.

Editor, The Poetical Works of Anna Seward. 3 vols., 1810.

Editor, Memoirs of Count Grammont, by Anthony Hamilton. 2 vols., 1811.

Editor, The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole. 1811.

Editor, Secret History of the Court of King James the First. 2 vols., 1811.

Editor, The Works of Jonathan Swift. 19 vols., 1814 (Memoirs of Swift published separately, 1826).

Editor, The Letting of Humours Blood in the Head Vaine, by S. Rowlands. 1814.

Editor, Memorie of the Somervilles. 2 vols., 1815.

Editor, Trivial Poems and Triolets, by Patrick Carey. 1820.

Editor, Memorials of the Haliburtons. 1820.

Editor, Northern Memoirs Writ in the Year 1658, by RichardFranck. 1821.

Editor, Ballantyne's Novelist's Library. 10 vols., 1821-24 (Lives of the Novelists published separately, 2 vols., 1825).

Editor, Chronological Notes of Scottish Affairs from the Diary of Lord Fountainhall. 1822.

Editor, Military Memoirs of the Great Civil War, by JohnGwynne. 1822.

Editor, Lays of the Lindsays. 1824.

Editor, Auld Robin Gray: A Ballad, by Lady Anne Barnard. 1825.

Editor, with D. Laing, The Bannatyne Miscellany. 1827.

Editor, Memoirs of the Marchioness de la Rochejaquelein. 1827.

Editor, Proceedings in the Court-Martial Held upon John, Master of Sinclair, 1708. 1829.

Editor, Memorials of George Bannatyne, 1545-1608. 1829.

Editor, Trial of Duncan Terig and Alexander Bane Macdonald, 1754. 1831.

Editor, Memoirs of the Insurrection in Scotland in 1715, by John, Master of Sinclair. 1858.



Bibliography of the Waverley Novels by G. Worthington, 1930; "A Bibliography of the Poetical Works of Scott 1796-1832" by W. Ruff, in Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society 1, 1938; A Bibliography of Scott: A Classified and Annotated List of Books and Articles Relating to His Life and Works 1797-1940 by James C. Corson, 1943; Scott: A Reference Guide by Jill Rubenstein, 1978; Sir Walter Scott: An Annotated Bibliography of Scholarship and Criticism, 1975-1990 by Jill Rubenstein, 1994.

Critical Studies:

Memoirs of the Life of Scott by J. G. Lockhart, 7 vols., 1837-38, edited by A. W. Pollard, 5 vols., 1900; Scott by John Buchan, 1932; Scott by David Cecil, 1933; Scott: A New Life by Herbert Grierson, 1938; Scott in Italy by William Gell, 1953; Scott: His Life and Personality by Hesketh Pearson, 1954; Scott by Ian Jack, 1958; The Heyday of Scott by Donald Davie, 1961; The Hero of the Waverley Novels by Alexander Welsh, 1963; Scott by Thomas Crawford, 1965, revised edition, 1982; Scott's Novels by F. R. Hart, 1966; Scott by John Lauber, 1966, revised edition, 1989; Scott: Modern Judgements edited by D. D. Devlin, 1968, and The Author of Waverley by Devlin, 1971; The Achievement of Scott by A. O. J. Cockshut, 1969; Scott's Mind and Art edited by A. Norman Jeffares, 1969; Under Which King? A Study of the Scottish Waverley Novels by Robert C. Gordon, 1969; Scott: The Great Unknown by Edgar Johnson, 2 vols., 1970; Scott and His World by David Daiches, 1971; Scott Bicentenary Essays edited by Alan Bell, 1973; An Index to the Waverley Novels by Philip Bradley, 1975; The Siege of Malta Rediscovered: An Account of Scott's Mediterranean Journey and His Last Novel, 1977, and The Journey of Scott to Malta, 1986, both by Donald E. Sultana; Scott and the Historical Imagination by David Brown, 1979; Scott: Landscape and Locality by James Reed, 1980; The Language of Scott: A Study of His Scottish and Period Language by Graham Tulloch, 1980; The Laird of Abbotsford: A View of Scott by A. N. Wilson, 1980; Scott and History by James Anderson, 1981; Scott and Society by Graham McMaster, 1981; Scott and His Influence edited by J. H. Alexander and David Hewitt, 1983; Scott: The Long-Forgotten Melody edited by Alan Bold, 1983; The Forms of Historical Fiction: Scott and His Successors by Harry E. Shaw, 1983; Scott: The Making of the Novelist, 1984, and Scott's Last Edition: A Study in Publishing History, 1987, both by Jane Millgate; Secret Leaves: The Novels of Scott by Judith Wilt, 1985; Scott, Chaucer, and Medieval Romance by Jerome Mitchell, 1987; Scott's Interleaved Waverley Novels, the "Magnum Opus": An Introduction and Commentary edited by Iain Gordon Brown, 1987; Scott the Rhymer by Nancy Moore Goslee, 1988; Fiction against History: Scott as Storyteller by James Kerr, 1989; Ivanhoe: The Mask of Chivalry by Paul J. DeGategno, 1994; Authorship as Alchemy: Subversive Writing in Pushkin, Scott, Hoffmann by David Glenn Kropf, 1994; Sir Walter Scott and the Gothic Novel by Robert Ignatius Le Tellier, 1995; Critical Essays on Sir Walter Scott: The Waverly Novels edited by Harry E. Shaw, 1996.

* * *

Sir Walter Scott's stories are a by-product of his novels. He used them as a way of presenting materials of recollection or oral history that the novels had not required. Thus in the stories he is often closer to his actual sources than he is in longer works. Especially after his final revelation as "the author of Waverley " in February 1827, when he no longer had need to cover his tracks, he was willing to admit his sources and name his informants. The result was Chronicles of the Canongate, in which most of his notable stories are found (except for "Wandering Willie's Tale" in Redgauntlet).

But the end of anonymity did not mean the end of invented mouthpieces. He devotes considerable space to the delineation of the imaginary editor, Chrystal Croftangry, and the narrator, Mrs. Bethune Baliol, who was based on Mrs. Murray Keith (of whom he supplies a long genealogy). J. G. Lockhart, Scott's biographer, however, believed that features of Scott's own mother were intermingled with those of Mrs. Baliol.

Here the frame (the depiction of the narrator's character) is as important as the story she tells. Her sharp meditations on class conceptions of honor reflect on the heroic and aristocratic world about which Scott wrote so much. Her Jacobitism is wavering and eclectic, part sentiment and part sober judgment, perhaps like the author himself.

The first story in Chronicles, "The Highland Widow," is one of Scott's finest, memorably encapsulating the clash of cultures that is also the theme of the best of the novels. A chain of memories and family connections take us back to the rebellion of 1745. Elspat MacTavish is a demented solitary with a long brooding memory of a dead husband and son. The husband had lived the life of a cattle-raider; the son has to earn his living in the new Hanoverian world, and he unwillingly enlists as a soldier. The idea of being flogged for discipline is more terrible both to mother and son than the idea of execution. The latter can be endured with dignity; the former seems to reduce a man to the level of a dog. His mother taunts him with "Hanover's Yoke," betrayal of the Stuarts, and even with the terrible tradition of the massacre of Glencoe, of whose perpetrators she considers his new masters the heirs. The mother's view of honor is simple; the son's, because he is a man of two worlds, is ambiguous. He partly shares his mother's view, but he is troubled also by his promise to serve the king as a soldier.

The climax comes when a party of soldiers arrests him for desertion, and, prompted by his mother, he fires and kills the sergeant who had befriended him. It is characteristic of Scott that the reader's dominant impression is not of these moments of drama but of the dreary aftermath, of the long years in which the widow is left to brood on the past and to remain as a living anachronism. In "My Aunt Margaret's Mirror" a woman, tormented by fears about her absent husband, goes to a sorcerer who shows her an image of her husband in a bigamous marriage ceremony abroad. After the deserted wife's death her sister is confronted with the erring husband in disguise, begging for forgiveness, which is refused after an inner struggle. Thus a moral issue invades a story of the marvelous. A deeper, meditative note also is introduced in the conflict between religion and superstition in Aunt Margaret's mind.

"The Tapestried Chamber" is the least remarkable of these stories, because it lacks the element of suspense. A visitor is put to sleep in a long-disused room in a great house; he is troubled by a vision of a ferocious hag, whose face he later recognizes in his host's picture gallery, and he hears the history of the ancestress guilty of incest and murder. By making the terrified visitor a general and brave soldier, Scott enforces the idea that spiritual terrors are far less bearable than earthly ones.

Scott, perhaps deliberately, sacrificed that formal tautness of the storyteller's art, as we find in craftsmen like Kipling, for the realistic atmosphere of a story actually told, hence his great stress on the memories and personality of the storyteller and on the questions and inner sensations of the listener. And by linking stories together, employing the same narrators again and again, he contrives to give an impression of a great store of oral tradition from which he is selecting specimens. The stories are meant to supplement each other and coalesce to give a picture of manners, traditions, and superstitions in a society that was passing away. And as such, they form a valuable pendant to his major works.

—A. O. J. Cockshut

See the essays on "The Two Drovers" and "Wandering Willie's Tale."