Classic Poetry from Passions in Poetry
Sir Walter Scott 1771 - 1832
Scottish novelist, poet, historian, translator and biographer, best known as the author of the historical novel and author of Ivanhoe (1819). His first published works were translations - The Chase and William and Helen (1796), a translation of two ballads by G.A. Bürger, and a translation of Goethe's Götz von Berlichingen (1799) - and a compendium of border ballads, collected by Scott in three volumes, entitled Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802-3). These were followed by a narrative poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) and other poetic romances: Marmion (1808), The Lady of the Lake (1810), Rokeby (1813) and Lord of the Isles (1813). He also published eighteen and twelve volume works of Dryden and Swift in 1808 and 1814 respectively, before the appearance, in 1814, of the first novel Waverley (1814).
This became the first of a trilogy of novels with the subsequent publication of Guy Mannering (1815) and The Antiquary (1816). Four other series of Scottish historical novels followed - The Black Dwarf and Old Mortality (1816); Rob Roy and The Heart of Midlothian (1818); The Bride of Lammermoor and A Legend of Montrose (1819) - before his taking up of specifically English history in the more famous texts: Ivanhoe (1819), The Monastery and the Abbot (1820), Kenilworth (1821), The Pirate (1822) and The Fortunes of Nigel (1822). Later works include Quentin Durwood (1822), Redgauntlet (1824) and The Talisman (1825).
Walter Scott, born in College Wynd, Edinburgh, was the son of a lawyer. Educated first at Edinburgh High School and then University he was apprenticed to his father and called to the bar in 1792. An avid reader of poetry, history, drama and romances, the young Scott read widely in Italian, Spanish, Latin and German. In his twenties he was influenced particularly by the German Romantics and his first published works were translations of G.A. Bürger and Goethe. These were followed by the collections of border ballads and the narrative poems, written between 1805 and 1815, that first made him famous. By by this time he had also married Margaret Charlotte Charpenter, of a French Royalist family, and became sheriff-deputy of Selkirkshire, in 1797 and 1799 respectively.
In 1809 Scott became partners with John Ballanytne in a book-selling business and also, as an ardent political conservative, helped to found the Tory 'Quarterly Review'. In 1811 he built a residence at Abbotsford on the Tweed. By 1815, beginning to feel eclipsed as a poet by Byron, he turned to the novel form for which he is now chiefly famous.
A vast number of these were published, anonymously, over approximately the next fifteen years. In 1820 Scott was made a baronet and seven years later, in 1827, he first gave his name to his works. However, in 1826 the book-selling business became involved in the bankruptcy of another company, leaving Scott with debts of approximately £114,000. It is generally believed that some part at least of the profligacy of his writing is attributed to his desire to pay off these debts personally. His work, and along stay at Naples in 1831, undertaken in an attempt to regain his health, took up the rest of his life.
He is now generally hailed as the inventor of the historical novel. His work was widely read and imitated across the whole of Europe throughout the Nineteenth-Century in particular and his influence is marked even in such writers as Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot and the Brontes.