Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Young Walter Scott is a third-person narrative biography that possesses many of the characteristics of a historical novel. Although she had much material about Sir Walter Scott available to her, Elizabeth Gray Vining made the story of his youth more appealing to young readers by inventing dramatic scenes, complete with dialogue, and by describing Scott’s thoughts and feelings at crucial points throughout his youth. Few could complain about her approach; although much of the book is the product of her imagination, Vining remains true to history and geography, to the facts of Scott’s life, and to his character and the characters of those closest to him.

The work is organized chronologically, covering the decade from Scott’s seventh to his seventeenth year. In the first chapter, he is evidently seven, because he has just arrived in Edinburgh to join his family and to go to school after spending his early years with relatives in the country. Before long, Scott has persuaded his father to let him leave the school where he has been placed and attend the more challenging high school with his brother John Scott, who is three years his senior. Walter is permitted to leave the high school, however, and spend a few more months with his beloved aunt in Kelso before entering college at the age of twelve. A mysterious illness keeps the boy in bed for some weeks, but he recovers fully. At fourteen, Scott is told that he is to become a lawyer and is...

(The entire section is 450 words.)