Sir Walter Scott Additional Biography


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

The fourth surviving son of Walter Scott and Anne Rutherford, Walter Scott was born on August 15, 1771, in a house in the College Wynd, Edinburgh. At the age of eighteen months, the infant contracted a fever while teething and, in the end, lost the use of his right leg. The circumstance became noteworthy not only for its effect on Scott’s personality and his writing, but also as the first fully authenticated case of infantile paralysis in medical history. After the failure of various attempts to remedy the malady, Scott’s father sent him to Sandy Knowe, near Kelso (Roxburgh), to live with his grandfather (Robert Scott) and his uncle (Thomas). Although the five years spent there contributed little or nothing toward curing the boy’s lameness, they provided some experiences with lasting influence: subjection to republican and Jacobite prejudices; songs and legends taught to him by his grandmother (Barbara Haliburton); a trip to the spas at Bath, with a stopover at London on the way; sea-bathing at Prestonpans, near Edinburgh (and site of one of the key engagements of the Jacobite uprising of 1745), where he learned of the German wars from an old veteran of Invernahyle, one Captain Dalgetty.

In 1778, the boy returned to his father’s house in George’s Square, Edinburgh, and later that year entered the high school at Edinburgh. From his principal tutor, a strict Presbyterian named James Mitchell, Scott gained a knowledge of Scottish church history, while his mother encouraged him to read William Shakespeare. His health, however, continued to be a problem, so again the elder Scott sent his son off, this time to Kelso to live with an aunt, Jenny Scott. During his half-year’s stay there, he met James Ballantyne and the blind poet Thomas Blacklock; there, also, he read James Macpherson’s Ossianic poems, Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590, 1596), and Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). Most important, however, he began to collect ballads, a form and a tradition that would remain with him and influence his own literary and cultural directions. By November, 1783, Scott had prepared himself sufficiently to begin studies at Edinburgh University; he pursued only those disciplines, however, that aroused his interest (law, history, romantic legends, and...

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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on August 15, 1771, and attended Edinburgh Royal High School and Edinburgh College. In 1786, he signed indentures to become a Writer to the Signet and, in 1792, he became a Scottish Advocate. In 1797, he married Charlotte Carpenter, with whom he had four children. He became Sheriff-Deputy of Selkirkshire in 1799 and Clerk to the Scottish Court of Session in 1806. From 1805 to 1810, he published best-selling poetry. In 1812, he bought Abbotsford, his home for life. Two years later, Scott published Waverley, the first in the series of remarkably successful and influential Waverley novels. He became a baronet in 1819, and later, in 1822, he arranged and managed the visit to Scotland of King George IV. Four years following this peak in his social career, Scott’s wife died and he suffered bankruptcy, which he struggled to overcome during the remainder of his life. In 1827, he acknowledged publicly his authorship of the Waverley novels, and, in 1829, he began publication of the “Magnum Opus,” a forty-eight-volume edition of the Waverley novels. He died at Abbotsford on September 21, 1832.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

An important factor in the vividness of the Scottish novels was the strong oral tradition to which Sir Walter Scott had access from his early childhood. After a bout with polio in his second year, he was sent away from Edinburgh to his paternal grandfather’s house at Sandyknowe in the Border country, in the hope that the climate would improve his health. It did, and though he remained lame for the rest of his life, his boyhood was an active one. In this region from which his ancestors had sprung, he heard stories of Border raids, Jacobite risings, and religious struggles from people for whom the past survived in a living tradition. Throughout his life he added to his fund of anecdotes, and his notes to the novels show how very often incidents in them are founded on actual events about which he had learned from the participants themselves or from their more immediate descendants.

Scott’s father was a lawyer, and in 1786, having attended Edinburgh High School and Edinburgh University, Scott became an apprentice in his father’s office. In 1792, he was admitted to the bar, and all his life he combined legal and literary activities. After losing his first love, Williamina Belsches, to a banker, he married Charlotte Carpenter in 1798. In 1805, he entered into a secret partnership with the printer James Ballantyne, and four years later they formed a publishing firm. This firm ran into financial difficulties, and in 1813, Scott escaped ruin only through the intervention of another publisher, Archibald Constable. Scott continued to overextend himself. In 1811, he had bought a farm on the Tweed at a place he named Abbotsford, and in the years that followed he wrote furiously to provide funds for building a splendid house and buying additional land. His ambition was to live the life of a laird. In 1826, the financial collapse of Constable and Ballantyne ruined Scott. In his last years, he worked tirelessly to pay his creditors. The effort told on his health, and he died in 1832, at the age of sixty-one. The debts were finally cleared after his death by the sale of his copyrights.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201579-Scott.jpg Sir Walter Scott Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Descended from long-established families in the Border country, Walter Scott was born on August 15, 1771, in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the second son of a prominent Edinburgh attorney, Walter Scott, and Anne Rutherford. Although sturdy and precocious at birth, Scott contracted infantile paralysis before age two, which left him permanently lame. Reared in the Border by relatives, he fell in love with the countryside, its lore and legendry. He roamed the burns and heaths at will, by foot and by pony; the landscape imprinted itself in his imagination. He also learned to read at age four, devouring his Aunt Janet’s collection of English novels.

Although not an outstanding student at any level, Scott was an...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Mark Twain hinted at times that Sir Walter Scott was so influential that he caused the Civil War. This remark has some of the exaggeration of humor, but Twain was not entirely joking. He meant that Scott’s concept of the romantic hero had so permeated society that armed resistance to perceived insult had become a common obsession. Men were conditioned to throw down the gage.

Scott undoubtedly popularized this image, if he did not invent it. He thus created the hero of popular culture. He also pioneered the modern novel and certain specific forms: the historical romance and the romantic fantasy. Further, he developed dialect as a means of character revelation and created a gallery of unforgettable characters.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In spite of physical handicaps Walter Scott lived a full, varied life and created an impressive body of writings. Stricken with infantile paralysis before he was two years old, and alternating between periods of physical vigor and serious ailments throughout his life, he loved and practiced outdoor sports for most of his sixty-one years.

Born in Edinburgh on August 15, 1771, he was a product of the eighteenth century as well as of the Romantic nineteenth. As a child he was a voracious reader and avid listener to tales and legends, particularly those of his native Scotland. His copious reading was stored in a retentive memory and used to advantage in his writings, and his interest in folklore led to his collection and...

(The entire section is 922 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Walter Scott was born on August 15, 1771, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Walter Scott, an attorney, and Anne Rutherford Scott, a woman...

(The entire section is 596 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

Born in Edinburgh in 1771, Scott was interested all his life in Scottish history, folk tales, and the supernatural, three of the major...

(The entire section is 457 words.)