Biography

Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) : Born in 1771 in Edinburgh. At the age of 1 year, Scott suffered from polio and lost the use of his right leg. In order to recuperate, his parents sent him to Sandyknowe, his grandfather’s sheep farm in the Borders, where he had an early exposure to Border lore and legend, and began a fascination with the Jacobite cause.

After moving between the Borders, Edinburgh and Bath to improve his health, Scott finally returned to Edinburgh in 1778, where he was educated privately for admission to the High School of Edinburgh, which he entered the following year. At the age of 12, he matriculated at Edinburgh University, and entered his father’s legal practice at 15.

A talented and energetic person, Scott became a lawyer, and pursued this profession all his adult life, in spite of his numerous social commitments and prolific writing. He made his first literary appearance with The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, a collection of ballads, but his first success as an author was in poetry with The Lay of the Last Minstrel, and most outstandingly, The Lady of the Lake, a bestseller. Scott promoted an image of a wild, bloody, romantic, mysterious Scotland, which is still a recognised stereotype of the country today. Abandoning poetry, he took to novel writing, and with his sequence of The Waverley Novels (Waverley, Guy Mannering, Rob Roy, Heart of Midlothian and others), he gained worldwide acclaim.

Scott produced a new novel every year, and his appetite for money led him to a misinvestment. His subsequent bancruptcy Scott faced with dignity and an ever increasing literary output. For six years, he wrote to clear his debts, at a terrible price to his health. He suffered a series of strokes, and died in 1832.

Scott is best remembered for his fiction, but he produced a great amount of poetry, biography, translations, and critical prose as well. He had a huge influence on the Romantic movement worldwide, and it was not just literature, but also painting and opera appropriating his characters, scenes and ideas about Scotland.