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Table of contents
- Journal of Women's History
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- The Color of Art: Free Artist Reference Books and eBooks
Journal of Women's History
Although primarily remembered for his extensive literary works and his political engagement, Scott was an advocate , judge and legal administrator by profession, and throughout his career combined his writing and editing work with his daily occupation as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire. A prominent member of the Tory establishment in Edinburgh, Scott was an active member of the Highland Society , served a long term as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh —32 and was a Vice President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland — Scott's knowledge of history, and his facility with literary technique, made him a seminal figure in the establishment of the historical novel genre, as well as an exemplar of European literary Romanticism.
Walter Scott was born on 15 August His father was a member of a cadet branch of the Scott Clan, and his mother descended from the Haliburton family, the descent from whom granted Walter's family the hereditary right of burial in Dryburgh Abbey. Five of Walter's siblings died in infancy, and a sixth died when he was five months of age. In January he returned to Edinburgh, and that summer went with his aunt Jenny to take spa treatment at Bath in England, where they lived at 6 South Parade.
In , Scott returned to Edinburgh for private education to prepare him for school, and joined his family in their new house built as one of the first in George Square. He was now well able to walk and explore the city and the surrounding countryside. His reading included chivalric romances, poems, history and travel books.
He was given private tuition by James Mitchell in arithmetic and writing, and learned from him the history of the Church of Scotland with emphasis on the Covenanters. After finishing school he was sent to stay for six months with his aunt Jenny in Kelso , attending the local grammar school where he met James and John Ballantyne , who later became his business partners and printed his books.
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Scott began studying classics at the University of Edinburgh in November , at the age of 12, a year or so younger than most of his fellow students. In March he began an apprenticeship in his father's office to become a Writer to the Signet. Whilst at both high school and university, Scott had become a friend of Adam Ferguson , the son of Professor Adam Ferguson who hosted literary salons.
During the winter of —87 the year-old Scott met Robert Burns at one of these salons, for what was to be their only meeting. When Burns noticed a print illustrating the poem "The Justice of the Peace" and asked who had written the poem, only Scott knew that it was by John Langhorne , and was thanked by Burns. Scott describes this event in his memoirs where he whispers the answer to his friend Adam who tells Burns  Another version of the event is described in Literary Beginnings  When it was decided that he would become a lawyer, he returned to the university to study law, first taking classes in moral philosophy and universal history in — After completing his studies in law, he became a lawyer in Edinburgh.
As a lawyer's clerk he made his first visit to the Scottish Highlands directing an eviction. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in He was appointed quartermaster and secretary. The daily drill practices that year, starting at 5am before the working day provide an indication of the determination with which this role was undertaken. He served with this volunteer force into the early s. As a boy, youth, and young man, Scott was fascinated by the oral traditions of the Scottish Borders. He was an obsessive collector of stories, and developed an innovative method of recording what he heard at the feet of local story-tellers using carvings on twigs, to avoid the disapproval of those who believed that such stories were neither for writing down nor for printing.
He then published an idiosyncratic three-volume set of collected ballads of his adopted home region, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. This was the first sign from a literary standpoint of his interest in Scottish history. As a result of his early polio infection, Scott had a pronounced limp. He was described in as tall, well formed except for one ankle and foot which made him walk lamely , neither fat nor thin, with forehead very high, nose short, upper lip long and face rather fleshy, complexion fresh and clear, eyes very blue, shrewd and penetrating, with hair now silvery white.
Unable to consider a military career, Scott enlisted as a volunteer in the 1st Lothian and Border yeomanry. After three weeks of courtship, Scott proposed and they were married on Christmas Eve in St Mary's Church, Carlisle a church set up in the now destroyed nave of Carlisle Cathedral. They had five children, of whom four survived by the time of Scott's death, most baptised by an Episcopalian clergyman.
In his early married days Scott had a decent living from his earnings at the law, his salary as Sheriff-Depute, his wife's income, some revenue from his writing, and his share of his father's rather meagre estate. After their third son was born in , they moved to a spacious three-storey house built for Scott at 39 North Castle Street. This remained Scott's base in Edinburgh until , when he could no longer afford two homes. From Scott had spent the summers in a cottage at Lasswade , where he entertained guests including literary figures, and it was there that his career as an author began.
There were nominal residency requirements for his position of Sheriff-Depute, and at first he stayed at a local inn during the circuit. In he ended his use of the Lasswade cottage and leased the substantial house of Ashestiel , 6 miles 9. It was sited on the south bank of the River Tweed , and the building incorporated an old tower house. John", and his poetry then began to bring him to public attention.
In , The Lay of the Last Minstrel captured wide public imagination, and his career as a writer was established in spectacular fashion. He published many other poems over the next ten years, including the popular The Lady of the Lake , printed in and set in the Trossachs.
Portions of the German translation of this work were set to music by Franz Schubert. Marmion , published in , produced lines that have become proverbial. Canto VI. Stanza 17 reads:. A Palmer too!
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No wonder why I felt rebuked beneath his eye. In Scott persuaded James Ballantyne and his brother to move to Edinburgh and to establish their printing press there. He became a partner in their business. As a political conservative,  Scott helped to found the Tory Quarterly Review , a review journal to which he made several anonymous contributions. Scott was also a contributor to the Edinburgh Review , which espoused Whig views.
Scott was ordained as an elder in the Presbyterian Duddingston Kirk in ,  and sat in the General Assembly for a time as representative elder of the burgh of Selkirk. The farm had the nickname of " Clarty Hole" Scots for "muddy hole" , and when Scott built a family cottage there in he named it "Abbotsford". He continued to expand the estate, and built Abbotsford House in a series of extensions. In Scott was offered the position of Poet Laureate.
He declined, due to concerns that "such an appointment would be a poisoned chalice", as the Laureateship had fallen into disrepute, due to the decline in quality of work suffered by previous title holders, "as a succession of poetasters had churned out conventional and obsequious odes on royal occasions. Although Scott had attained worldwide celebrity through his poetry, he soon tried his hand at documenting his researches into the oral tradition of the Scottish Borders in prose fiction—stories and novels—at the time still considered aesthetically inferior to poetry above all to such classical genres as the epic or poetic tragedy as a mimetic vehicle for portraying historical events.
In an innovative and astute action, he wrote and published his first novel , Waverley , anonymously in It was a tale of the Jacobite rising of Its English protagonist, Edward Waverley, like Don Quixote a great reader of romances, has been brought up by his Tory uncle, who is sympathetic to Jacobitism , although Edward's own father is a Whig. The youthful Waverley obtains a commission in the Whig army and is posted in Dundee.
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On leave, he meets his uncle's friend, the Jacobite Baron Bradwardine and is attracted to the Baron's daughter Rose. On a visit to the Highlands, Edward overstays his leave and is arrested and charged with desertion but is rescued by the Highland chieftain Fergus MacIvor and his mesmerizing sister Flora, whose devotion to the Stuart cause, "as it exceeded her brother's in fanaticism, excelled it also in purity".
Through Flora, Waverley meets Bonnie Prince Charlie , and under her influence goes over to the Jacobite side and takes part in the Battle of Prestonpans. He escapes retribution, however, after saving the life of a Whig colonel during the battle. Waverley whose surname reflects his divided loyalties eventually decides to lead a peaceful life of establishment respectability under the House of Hanover rather than live as a proscribed rebel.
He chooses to marry the beautiful Rose Bradwardine, rather than cast his lot with the sublime Flora MacIvor, who, after the failure of the '45 rising, retires to a French convent. There followed a succession of novels over the next five years, each with a Scottish historical setting.
Mindful of his reputation as a poet, Scott maintained the anonymity he had begun with Waverley , publishing the novels under the name "Author of Waverley" or as "Tales of During this time Scott became known by the nickname "The Wizard of the North". In he was given the honour of dining with George, Prince Regent , who wanted to meet the "Author of Waverley". Scott's series Tales of my Landlord is sometimes considered a subset of the Waverley novels and was intended to illustrate aspects of Scottish regional life.
Among the best known is The Bride of Lammermoor , a fictionalized version of an actual incident in the history of the Dalrymple family that took place in the Lammermuir Hills in In the novel, Lucie Ashton and the nobly born but now dispossessed and impoverished Edgar Ravenswood exchange vows. But the Ravenswoods and the wealthy Ashtons, who now own the former Ravenswood lands, are enemies, and Lucie's mother forces her daughter to break her engagement to Edgar and marry the wealthy Sir Arthur Bucklaw. Lucie falls into a depression and on their wedding night stabs the bridegroom, succumbs to insanity, and dies.
The prolonged, climactic coloratura mad scene for Lucia in Donizetti 's bel canto opera Lucia di Lammermoor is based on what in the novel were just a few bland sentences.