Talk:Walter Scott

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Rarely read?[edit]

His novels may be less popular than they were, but it's stretching things a bit to say that he's rarely read. I've read some of his novels and I know other people who have too. If you want a best-selling Victorian novelist whose works are rarely read nowadays try someone like George Macdonald. I don't know anyone who's read his work lately. -- Derek Ross

Please pick some other Victorian -old George, the inspiration to C.S. Lewis and G.K Chesterton unread? I have Lillith and The Princess and the Goblin on my self now. Amazon has many of his works in print even illustrated by Maurice Sendak or on audiotape. "If you want a best-selling Victorian novelist whose works are rarely read nowadays try someone like" Louisa Muhlbach. ---rmhermen

Don't get me wrong, -- I like George Macdonald -- I just don't think that he's that widely read now. His fantasy is probably more popular than his other stuff but "Sir Gibbie"? Still, I suppose that compared to Louisa Muhlbach... -- Derek Ross | Talk 05:07, 28 September 2005 (UTC).
Well, I'm a reader of George MacDonald. I think that his children's books are still read, and certainly the Doric in his Aberdeenshire novels make them of a particular interest. But Eric Linklater? There's an example of bad neglect, and Alistair Maclean is reportedly out of print now. --MacRusgail 17:29, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

I think he is read by all people inclined to read Victorian novels and certainly by young people who love romantic ones. WHAT person who reads English [Scottish] novels hasn't read Ivanhoe or Waverley?? What teenager who enjoys Dumas, Verne or Cooper hasn't enjoyed Sir Walter?

Scott has also been translated into practically every literary language and widely read around the world: In France he is as often read as Alexandre Dumas Père. He had an enormous influence on European literature, from Spain to Russia.

Also, what is that nonsense about Scott also suffered from the rising star of Jane Austen ? What does one have to do with the other? They never had the same readership and nobody thinks of them in the same brath at all. What rubbish. Tantris —Preceding comment was added at 03:09, 1 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm curious about the line Scott suffered from a disastrous decline in popularity after the First World War. To whom was it a disaster? I don't think he'd have found it so as he was long dead. OK, perhaps his reputation, but I'm still not sure the 'disastrous' bit is necessary. With regards to jane Austn, no less a personage than Charlotte Bronte asked how anyone could find Austn more interesting than the Waverley novels.( (talk) 21:13, 17 May 2008 (UTC))
People read less these days. Movies & television have usurped the place of books.

Dick Scalper (talk) 13:17, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

sir walter?[edit]

Why is he "Sir" Walter Scott instead of just "Walter Scott" in the article title, please? -- isis 24 Aug 2002

Presumably he was knighted.JimD 09:07, 2004 Apr 6 (UTC)
"Sir" (pronounced "cur" in the old jibe) came with the baronet bit - I've added the link following it by a Sir W. to explain this, also adding to the king's visit which was a pivotal moment in forming the scotch identity - dave souza 07:54, 29 Aug 2004 (UTC)


I (User:JimD) added the paragraph about Marmion and the quote:

Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!

... after researching its origins to satisfy my curiosity. Hope that addition is useful. Hope someone will write up a bit about Marmion to fix the dead link.JimD 09:07, 2004 Apr 6 (UTC)

chrono order[edit]

I reversed the order of 2 phrases ;one of them was refering to the year 1799 and was placed before the one refering to the year 1797.I think they should be placed in chronological order.

I would like to say that I'm from Romania and I've read almost all of Walter Scott's novels, some of them in the 2nd or even 3rd edition of the translation (Ivanhoe and Quentin Durward;some translations were published before WWII), while in the mean time I've never heard of that George McDonald.


Georg Lukács[edit]

The Hungarian literary critic Georg Lukács did some important work on Scott's innovative qualities, and is the one responsible for naming him the father of the historical novel. I think this should be included, I'll see what I can do, but if anyone know more about this subject, feel free. Eixo 10:36, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Does anyone more knowledgeable than I want to add a section about his permission from George, Prince Regent to 'rummage' in Edinburgh castle, and his supposed 'discovery' of the hidden Honours of Scotland?

You could write it up from here, a resource from the National Library of Scotland, or this, taken from the castle's own guide, or this. (Sorry, trying not to get into any new WP areas myself...) JackyR | Talk 18:26, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Abbortsford House[edit]

I added some information here which I fetched from 'The Book of Knowledge' by Harold F.B. Wheeler, publ. The Waverley Book Company, Ltd. London (undated but around 1931). Since I do not quite know how to make the citation correctly, I put the information here and maybe some kind soul will do this for me ProEdits 19:47, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Should the second break on Abbotsford House not be deleted? It contains nothing about Scott himself. One could also just say: "The house is now a museum".--Hans Dunkelberg (talk) 17:48, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

The house is called "Abbotsford" (no "House") [see for example]. I have corrected this. Richard101696 (talk)


Please correct me but I think his birthday is today, not the 14th as written in th article. -- 13:37, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Cultural depictions of Walter Scott[edit]

I've started an approach that may apply to Wikipedia's Core Biography articles: creating a branching list page based on in popular culture information. I started that last year while I raised Joan of Arc to featured article when I created Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc, which has become a featured list. Recently I also created Cultural depictions of Alexander the Great out of material that had been deleted from the biography article. Since cultural references sometimes get deleted without discussion, I'd like to suggest this approach as a model for the editors here. Regards, Durova 16:26, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Walter Scott in Huckleberry Finn[edit]

In Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, is the ship that was wrecked on the river named after this Walter Scott? And if so, could we possibly make a list of other places he comes up, either literally or by inference?All4One 14:18, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

My highschool english teacher and one of my college english teachers all agree that it's an ironic reference to this Walter Scott. Scott writes about grand heroics and such in his novels and there on the sinking boat in Mark Twain's book there is nothing but a band of cut-throats there to kill one of their number. -Jo April 29, 2007

The ship was called Walter Scott. And you're right about making a list of places. I'm adding a references in other literature section.Leo-Isaurus-Rex (talk) 13:02, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Mark Twain considered the works of Walter Scott to have had a pernicious influence in the antebellum U.S. South. Twain believed they were responsible for the sham chivalric culture that prevailed there, and thus were a cause of the U.S. Civil War! (However, he reserved his most vitriolic criticism for James Fenimore Cooper, whom he considered a poor writer.)Barnaby the Scrivener (talk) 12:19, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

how detailed is his research?[edit]

I'm reading Rob Roy. There's this huge rambling preface and introduction text complete with a few citations. Among other things, it relates an anecdote of Rob Roy MacGregor visiting his kinsman Dr James Gregory, inventor of the Gregorian telescope, and liking him so much he wants to do him a favor by taking his son off to learn Rob Roy's war-like ways. Is the anecdote likely to be true? -- Akb4 09:35, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Different info?????? tell me the truth[edit]

There's something that bothers me here in another web site it says a few different things like it says he entered the endinburgh high school in 1778 wich in imposible cause he would be 7 or 8????!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!? Was he a guiness? Can someone please notifly me on that??????

Someone should edit the titles of Scott's books in the intro. At least two of them are incorrect. Was the writer joking? Mizelmouse (talk) 19:48, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Further Reading ???[edit]

I feel the specification of one book only is advertising, particularly for a brand new book (date according to the publisher: June 2007). Perhaps this may be of interest or maybe this section should be deleted (I'm certainly not about to fork out 60 quid to read the book!) 21:24, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Lack of humor?[edit]

The assessment section lists, among Scott's "many flaws", a "lack of humor". There are many humorous passages in Scott's novels, and these are often laugh-out-loud. Try re-reading Cuddy Headrigg's crafty self-defence before the Privy Council in "Old Mortality", or Edie Ochiltree's mocking of Oldbuck's "Prætorian" remains in "The Antiquary". If no-one cares to add a section on humour in Scott's works, I'll attempt it myself.--Mabzilla (talk) 13:50, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree and have removed that remark. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, for instance, says of him that "He was selfish in the way that creative men are selfish: for all his sociability and his capacity to make other people laugh, he offered others very little intimacy." Lesgles (talk) 01:51, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Wonderman 1946 Danny Kaye film[edit]

It took me a while but I have finally found out just what was exactly said as Danny Kaye walks away and utters 'Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to decieve' A stage hand/cleaner type man moves into a full frame view and said something (to me) like 'Sir Walter Scotts mummy in candlesticks stands us seventeen, how beautiful.'

Now, after looking up Sir Walter Scotts words I have finally found out the words to be 'Sir Walter Scotts Mamion in Canto VI Stanza 17. How beautiful.'

The right words, truely are.

Thanks for this great film, Danny! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Lisa sargent (talkcontribs) 13:13, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Memorials and Commemoration[edit]

I added the Scott Monument to the list and deleted the "1896 American textbook" reference to the commemoration stone for Scott in Makar's Court as "acknowledged to be one of the finest monuments in the world." Makar's Court wasn't designated until 1999 and the commemoration is a simple engraved slab. I would presume that the 1896 book referred to the Scott Monument in Princes Street. Mabzilla (talk) 14:33, 7 June 2009 (UTC)


A recent addition "Scott was particularly associated with Toryism" has been made to the lead. It's true and, although uncited, could be referenced. However, the lead section should concentrate on what the subject was famous for, and contain nothing that isn't dealt with in the body of the work. If this is significant, it should be in the body of the article; if not, removed. I haven't the knowledge to assess this, or I would give it a try. --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:14, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Removed from the lead:

Scott has been said to be particularly associated with Toryism[1], though several passages in Tales of a Grandfather display a liberal, progressive and Unionist outlook on Scotland's history.

Such discussion should be found in the body if it is to be mentioned in the lead. If his political views are discussed more thoroughly in the body it may be appropriate to add this back later. Lambanog (talk) 04:28, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:09, 15 June 2010 (UTC)


Moving some pictures here that in my view add clutter. If the article is further developed, perhaps they can be added back later. Lambanog (talk) 04:24, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Thomas Blacklock
Plaque to Walter Scott, Rome, Italy
Moving out some more pictures that clutter - that are not about Scott directly, are repeats or unclear portaits.
Robert Burns

centre|100px|thumb|Walter Scott on a Scottish banknote

Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer
Sir Walter Scott's statue at his memorial in Edinburgh

There are still seven evenly spaced and varied images for the fairly short text. Spanglej (talk) 03:05, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

poetry and prose collections[edit]

I'm wondering about the works listings. No poets' article (apart from Scott's) lists poems individually - they write so many of them. This list is very partial. I move that for essays, stories and poems we only include collections - as is standard. Spanglej (talk) 03:12, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Critical assessment - by Mark Twain.[edit]

I've added a clause left out of the quotation of Mark Twain's accusation that Scott was "in large measure" responsible for the American civil war, and changed the external link to one where Twain's original words can be found. The sentence following the one quoted reads: "It seems a little harsh toward a dead man to say that we never should have had any war but for Sir Walter; and yet something of a plausible argument might, perhaps, be made in support of that wild proposition." A wild proposition, indeed. Entertaining as Twain's over-the-top attack is, it's a pity that his position as an "early critic" gives his views undue prominence. More (cited) material from other critics is needed to give a better balance. --Mabzilla (talk) 15:58, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Mark Twain's disparagement of Scott is given prominence in both the "Later assessment" and "References in other literature" sections. This is unnecessary duplication. The "Later assessment" section would best be reserved for serious criticism of Scott's work as literature, and Twain's references could be tidied up somewhat and confined to the "References in other literature" section. Any arguments before I edit? --Mabzilla (talk) 15:17, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Now done. --Mabzilla (talk) 18:39, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Why Melrose ?[edit]

Please correct me, russian tourist, but I think all the time sir W. died in his Abbotsford and his grave located at Dryburgh near his wife, where the family had "hereditary right of burial in Dryburgh Abbey". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:04, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Scott did indeed die at Abbotsford, and was buried at Dryburgh; "Abbotsford" was the name created by Scott for his house, which is situated in the parish of Melrose.--Mabzilla (talk) 15:16, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

"Practice" as verb in Marmion[edit]

Is there a reference for Scott's use of practice as a verb in Marmion? OED uses exactly this quote as an illustration of to practise, for "to devise, … plan, scheme, intend". --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:21, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

The only valid reference would be the first(1808) edition, I suppose. My copy is the 1896 Adam & Charles Black edition, which includes an editorial note dated 1st November, 1833: "Some alterations in the text of the Introduction to Marmion, and of the Poem itself, as well as various additions to the author's Notes, will be observed in this Edition. Sir Walter Scott's interleaved copy has been followed, as finally revised by him in the summer of 1831. The preservation of the original MS. of the Poem has enriched this volume with numerous various readings, which will be found curious and interesting." I've put a query on Scotliterary's talk page suggesting that Scott himself may possibly have changed the word in later editions. As Scotliterary apparently works for the Association for Scottish Literary studies, he should be in a good position for research. Mind you, his change of the Canto number from VI to IV makes me wonder...--Mabzilla (talk) 16:47, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
The Canto IV/VI is my own stupid error, sorry, fixed now ... My reference for the 1808 (2nd) edition comes from a scan of it on Google Books, available at The relevant quote on p343 uses "practice", and my own copy of the Shorter OED has: "Practice 6. The action of scheming, esp. (now only) in an underhand way for an evil purpose; machination, treachery, artifice. arch. 1494." It also has: "Practise 11. To p. upon: To practise tricks or artifices upon; to act upon, by artifice, so as to induce to do or believe something; to impose upon, delude; to work upon (a person or his feelings, etc.) 1596." Which doesn't really help ... however the 1808 edition does use "practice". Again checking Google's scanned editions, the 5th edition of 1810 also has "practice", but by the time the 10th edition is published in 1821 the spelling has become "practise". Whether this is an original error by Scott and/or his original typesetter, later corrected, or a later error by a later typesetter, thereafter reproduced, I don't know ... both spellings are, frankly, reasonable: the only argument for favouring "practice" would be that it is (in the absence of a first edition to check) the original.--Scotliterary (talk) 13:27, 17 December 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. It's practice as a verb on p. 236 as well, so the same typesetter would have to have made the same mistake twice! If that is Scott's original usage, we need to stick with it, and that answers my question. Thanks for the research. --Old Moonraker (talk) 21:14, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Scotliterary quotes the Shorter OED for "practice": "...6. The action of scheming..." i.e. a noun, not a verb. The suggestion that Scott deliberately used an archaic form, from an age when spelling was less standardised, is doubtful; the rest of the poem doesn't have any other obvious examples to support this. There are three uses of the verb in "Marmion", the editions from second to fifth have two "practice" to one "practise", so no consistency in a small sample. All three are "practise" in the sixth(1810) edition. If it's unlikely that a typesetter made the same mistake twice, it's equally unlikely unlikely that the the typesetter for the later edition was similarly mistaken. Looking at a facsimile, published by the National Library of Scotland, of a page from Scott's manuscript of "Waverley", Scott's handwriting was not particularly neat and there are numerous crossings out and corrections. According to Lockhart's "Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott", "Marmion" was "sold and published in an unfinished state", and Scott made "one or two alterations to the third edition", suggesting that proofreading was not particularly thorough. I still incline towards the view that the original spelling was a mistake by either Scott or the typesetter and that Scott later corrected this. But, short of asking the NLS for an look at Scott's original MS (original research?), all I can suggest at the moment is that it should be left with "practice" and a footnote added that this is how it appeared in early editions; it was later emended to "practise", and this is how it is normally quoted (at least by British English users!)--Mabzilla (talk) 16:40, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

I've done some further investigation and I've discovered that the third edition was the last edition Scott worked on himself. As such, it's being used as the base text for a forthcoming edition of Scott's poetry to be published by Edinburgh University Press, and it reads "... practice to deceive". I don't think a change to "practise" by 1810 can be seen as a correction/move towards the modern British English standard spelling, though: if you look at the lines from Canto VI, 3, in the 1808 edition, which read "Fitz-Eustace, loitering with his bow, / To practise on the gull and crow,", that's clearly using "practise" as a verb, which would be correct in modern usage; by 1821 though these lines have been "corrected" to "Fitz-Eustace, loitering with his bow, / To practice on the gull and crow,". It all seems pretty random to me! However, I agree that the modern, corrected spelling of the quote should use "practise" ... it might be better to change the spelling back again to its modern standard form and just consign this can of worms to the bin! –Scotliterary (talk) 12:52, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
O, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice/practise to retrieve... (Sorry, couldn't resist it). Whichever, a footnote might be helpful to forestall a succession of reverts.--Mabzilla (talk) 13:40, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Footnote added: feel free to amend as necessary! —Scotliterary (talk) 14:33, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

New Section needed on influence of Scott on prestige of ballad and folksong collecting[edit]

glancingly referred to here. Also, I have read that Lochinvar was the most popular ballad in nineteenth century America. Several of Scott's versions of ballads passed into oral tradition, I believe.Mballen (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 01:52, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

There is a University of Edinburgh website on Scott. His first success was Minstresy of Scots Border. This contains 25 percent of the Scot's ballad corpus. Scott looked for historical ballads but ended up with a fair number of romances (tales of magic). Scott's editing of the ballads has been criticized because he is thought to have "improved them" but, many of the best known and most popular today are from Scott's versions: "Douglas Tragedy", "Thomas the Rhymer" "Twa Sisters". He also included some of his own original ballad imitations, which were less well received. Rene Wellek praises Scott's introductory essay on the ballads and calls it the best literary criticism Scott ever wrote. Scott's next book was an anthology of ballad imitations by himself and by other people. The Lay of the Last Minstrel was intended to go in this book but was too long and was issued as a separate book. It was hugely successful. Made the fortune of the publisher. Scott began to be noticed abroad and a tourist industry began growing up in Scotland as a result of his books. Amid the acclaim, Scott's defects as a poet were noticed -- he filled up lines with extra words for the sake of the rhyme and so on. However, critics were willing to overlook these faults because of his originality and his great popularity, which seemed "the voice of the people."

Ivanhoe was Scott's first international success. Was the first historical novel. Scott's novels typically showed the effect of historical change and events on ordinary people caught up in them against their will. Scott's is hero was typically a bystander, not an actor in the drama. This use of historical perspective was a novelty as was Scott's attempt at objectivity and his sympathy with humble and marginal figures. One critic remarks that Ivanhoe was the first book to show a Jewish woman, Rebecca, as an attractive figure and her money-lender father as a victim not a villain. Rebecca doesn't get to marry the hero who rescues her and whom she loves, but she remains faithful to her religion. (In most romance literature a non-Christian character would have to convert to Christianity to be seen as an acceptable heroine). Toleration of other Christian sects, including Catholics, is another theme in Scott's novels, although some Presbyterians feel he treated them with condescension. However it is ignorance and fanaticism that Scott deplored, whether in humble or highly placed characters. Scott's endorsement of the values of objectivity, tolerance, and humanity caused some contemporaries to compare him to Shakespeare. The Waverley novels were especially esteemed -- though from the first, there were critics who found his style lacking in distinction. "No quotable passages" was a frequent criticism. Because of its static plot, one critic called Ivanhoe, "a pageant" rather than a novel. I believe the article ought to convey this information somehow. Mark Twain famously condemned Ivanhoe for idealizing chivalry, but a modern critic points out that his is a serious misreading of Scott's message.Mballen (talk) 20:12, 18 February 2012 (UTC)

The Walter Scott Minstrelsy Project is a joint project run between the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Edinburgh. In related news, Illustrating the Brothers Grimm and their correspondence with Sir Walter Scott - Books - . . . . dave souza, talk 19:16, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

Literary Period: Romanticism[edit]

Sir Walter Scott is classified [by Wikipedia and other sources] as a writer in the Romantic period, not the Victorian one. MacLennan123Maclennan123 (talk) 16:04, 9 May 2012 (UTC)


I read this, the second sentence, while looking up his bibliography "Scott was the first English-language author to have a truly international career in his lifetime" - "Who came up with that " I thought? Surely some serious heavyweight with greater knowledge than any mere mortal. I allowed myself to be overawed by something I knew was not true. This source must be water tight...Oh wait , the source is... the website of his old house - that is now a hotel that rents itself out for weddings and bar mitzvahs.

HOW did that sentence manage to get through and ,what is worse, STAY in? It's original research AND a free advert! Besides which it is demonstrably not true - Rousseau, Defoe, Swift and Sterne (to name a few) were all published and read in North and South America, The Caribbean, Europe, Russia and carried further before Scott was born. Scott's contemporary poets could lay greater claim than he and still be wrong. Besides I suppose if i were not Scottish I would be complaining about this article being "Euro-centric".

If that sentence isn't gone in two weeks or altered then you'll have to watch my hamfisted attempts at article editing. At least qualify it in some way and, for the love of Christmas, give it a better source than a weekend break hotel - if you can.

I'll (happily) say he was internationally recognised at a time when a generation of British authors and critics were gaining world renown (with appropriate source) but I'll remove the bit about him being the first (and that ridiculous source).

Please do it before me Robin J Thomson (talk) 08:05, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Robin J Thomson ps- Ok I realise that, as a Genevese-Swiss/4th generation Hugenot who wrote mostly in French, that perhaps Rousseau was a bad choice when giving examples of English-language authors. I stand by the others though

Robin J Thomson (talk) 10:28, 29 April 2014 (UTC)Robin J Thomson

Repetition of content[edit]

Most of the information here has already been said above. Check by using search string "south bank of". Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 23:37, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ The Life of Sir Walter Scott by John Gibson Lockhart.