Son of a Glasgow merchant, Michael Scott was born at Cowlairs, Scotland, on October 30, 1789, and educated at the high school in Glasgow and at the University of Glasgow. He was sent to Jamaica in 1806 to work as an estate manager. In 1810 he founded his own business at Kingston. Many of the incidents recorded in his fiction occurred on trips that he took about the West Indies as a businessman. Scott returned to Scotland for a time in 1817. While there, he married Margaret Bogle of Glasgow; they had several children in later years. Scott returned to Jamaica, to remain from 1818 to 1822. Although he remained a merchant until his death, he apparently began to write seriously during the early 1820’s.
Tom Cringle’s Log began appearing as a series of sketches in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1829 and ran intermittently until its completion in 1833. As the installments appeared, the story became very popular, although the identity of its author was not known until some time after Scott’s death in 1835. The effectiveness and popularity of Tom Cringle’s Log once it appeared in book form undoubtedly stemmed from the exotic setting and the fact that Scott wrote humorously and at first hand of life in the West Indies. Scott’s second novel, The Cruise of the Midge, also appeared serially and anonymously. Like the first, it ran in Blackwood’s Magazine. Critics were not as lavish in their praise of the second book as they had been of the first, and readers found its humor forced. Scott never loomed large on the literary scene, and his work has gone relatively unnoticed by literary scholars.