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Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)

Scott, Sir Walter

Walter Scott was born in 1771 in Edinburgh, one of twelve children of a solicitor. His interest in Scottish legends and history began early, when he lived on the Borders with his grandparents. He attended Edinburgh University, studying arts and law, and by the age of sixteen was already collecting and translating old ballads. He followed his father’s career, and, in 1797, married Margaret Charlotte Charpentier.

Scott’s first major work, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, appeared in 1802-03. He gained fame as a poet with the publication of The Lay of the Last Minstrel in 1805, which made him the most popular writer of the period. He followed its success by the poems Marmion, a historical romance, The Lady of the Lake, and The Lord of the Isles.

The debts Scott inherited from his friend James Ballantyne, with whom he had started a publishing business, forced him to become very prolific in order to earn money. Through the 1810’s, Scott published many historical novels annonymously, such as Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian, Rob Roy, and Ivanhoe, for which he is probably best remembered.

His influence on later writers was profound. He was the first to use the historical novel genre, and inspired many major authors in the second half of the nineteenth century. Walter Scott was created a baronet in 1820, and died September 21, 1832, having paid all his debts with the profits from his writing.

Famous quotations by Sir Walter Scott:

  • O, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!

  • Each age has deemed the new-born year The fittest time for festal cheer.

  • All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.

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

  • For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.

  • Suggested sites for Sir Walter Scott:

    Encyclopedia article about Sir Walter Scott
    Texts by Scott
    Follows the Saxon Knight, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, during his conquest of Normandy.

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