Famous Scots
- Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

Sir Walter Scott
Born in Edinburgh, the ninth child of a lawyer, Scott contracted polio as a child which left him with a permanent limp. He trained as a lawyer and it was not unt"Waverley" was published. This was an instant success and he produced a string of novels in the following years, such as Rob Roy, Guy Mannering, Ivanhoe, Old Mortality, and The Talisman.

Bank of Scotland 4 Note A prominent figure in Edinburgh society, he entertained famous people like Washington Irving and William Wordsworth. He was knighted in 1820 and organised the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822. He practically re-invented Highland society and clan tartans (which had not previously existed in this form) for the visit. Even the king was bedecked in false tartanry.

Scott's interest in things Scottish led him to rediscover the Scottish crown and sceptre which had been left, forgotten, in Edinburgh Castle. He also fought a successful defence of Scottish Banknotes - his portrait is on current Bank of Scotland notes in memory of that event.

Scott's management of his financial affairs left much to be desired. He was extravagant both in expanding his baronial country mansion at Abbotsford in the Borders and in buying historical Scottish artefacts. In 1826 he found himself 100,000 pounds in debt. Until that time all his novels had been published anonymously (under the name "The Great Unknown") but from 1827 to 1831 we worked furiously to produce work which would pay off his debts. He had cleared 70,000 pounds by the time he died in 1832 and the remainder was paid by selling copyrights. In 1840 a grateful nation erected a magnificent monument to him in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

Edinburgh University provides a very useful Walter Scott Digital Archive with lots of original portraits, extracts from Scott's correspondence and Journal, pages on the artists and sculptors who prepared original portraits of Scott and images of engravings and copies of portraits of Scott held in the Corson Collection. The site also has Synopses of Scott's Major Works together with bibliographical information on first editions, a brief history of their composition, and details of reception by public and critics.

Return to the Index of Famous Scots

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line