Updated: Jan 3
Sir Walter Scott (Scottish novelist, playwright, poet, and historian born in Edinburgh August 1771) is known for his novels such as the Waverley, Rob Roy, The Lady of The Lake, Ivanhoe and many more are famous around the world. A celebration for the 250th anniversary of the bard continues into 2022 with on and offline events. Here are the top five places associated with Sir Walter Scott you might like to visit and exciting news!
Top Five Places Associated With Sir Walter Scott
Honresfield Library - Scottish Institutions Celebrate Appeals Success
An appeal was launched earlier last year when it was announced that a collection of original manuscripts held in the Honresfield Library, which has been unseen by the public for almost a century, were being put up for auction.
The library, collected and curated by a Rochdale businessman in the 1800s, comprises priceless manuscripts, rare first editions and irreplaceable letters. These include works by Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and the Brontë siblings.
The complete working manuscript of Sir Walter Scott’s iconic novel Rob Roy, part of the autographed manuscript of Scott’s verse romance, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, his travel journal of an expedition off the Scottish coast in 1814, a copy of Border Antiquities with extensive manuscript revisions, and an exceptional group of Scott first editions in their original condition.
The Scottish members of a consortium (Abbotsford, the National Library of Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland) set up to save the unique collection of literature for, have welcomed the news that their international appeal has reached its target of £15 million. Back in December, it was announced that the incredible works had indeed been saved for the nation and arrangements will be made in the coming months for the Scottish organisations to take possession of key works from the collection, conserve them and make them publicly accessible.
Abbotsford House - Scottish Borders
Abbotsford, the Home of Sir Walter Scott, is one of the most renowned houses in the world. Located in the beautiful Scottish Borders, It reflects the imagination, enthusiasms and preoccupations of the man who designed and built it, and is the physical embodiment of the classic Scott novel: a delightful and dramatic reinterpretation of Scotland’s past, charmingly laid out for the cultural enrichment of its future.
Its mission is:
To preserve, protect and improve the Abbotsford buildings and contents and land associated with Sir Walter Scott and his family for the benefit and enjoyment of the public;
To advance the education of the public in relation to the life and works of Sir Walter Scott and the history of Abbotsford.
Abbotsford is really easy to visit, either by tour bus, car or train. Did you know you can take the Scottish Borders train from Waverley Train Station, Edinburgh to Tweedbank?
Discover more in Scotland's Stately Houses You May Not Have Heard Of and Things To Do In The Scottish Borders.
Waverley Station, Edinburgh
The current Waverley Station opened in 1868, today the second busiest train station in Scotland after Glasgow Central. Named after the Waverley novels, 2014 saw Waverley transformed as part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s debut novel, Waverley.
Scott Monument - Princes Street, Edinburgh
The gothic monument - Scott Monument is the second in the world's tallest structure dedicated to a writer. Standing 200 feet 6 inches (61.11 m) high it has a number of viewing platforms reached by a spiral staircase, which has 287 steps. There are spectacular views from the top, where you can see across to the Water of Leith, Pentland Hills and beyond. Completed in 1844, it has been restored over the years, with Binny Stone for which the original quarry was re-opened. Today it can still be seen with some of its darkened original stone from the days when the city was nicknamed "Old Reekie" (coal-burning smoke and smog). Now known as "Athens of the North" Edinburgh was awarded the first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004.
Scott's View - Scottish Borders
Said to be one of Sir Walter Scott's favourite views, located an hour from Edinburgh. There is a seating bench, where you too can enjoy the pristine beauty of the rolling hills and River Tweed. It is said, that when the funeral party was on their way to Dryburgh, the horses stopped at this view unaided, remembering that Scott often stopped at this same spot.
Sir Walter Scott - Loch Katrine
Loch Katrine is said to have been the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott's poem, The Lady of the Lake, visitors still flock here over two centuries later. Queen Victoria is said to have also enjoyed a boat trip here in 1869, on the eight-mile-long loch at the heart of the Loch Lomond National Park. Did you know that from 1859 Loch Katrine was used as Glasgow's main source of drinking water? Today you can still enjoy boat trips onboard Lady of The Lake (after the famous poem), Rob Roy III (named after Scott's Novel - Rob Roy. Rob Roy MacGregor, was a notorious outlaw born at the head of the loch in 1671) and the 120-year-old steamship Sir Walter Scott (currently out of service for boiler repairs).
If you would like to know more about visiting Loch Katrine, what you can expect and information on booking boat trips can be found at Autumn on Loch Katrine.
Sir Walter Scott - 250th Anniversary Events
As part of the 250 year anniversary of Sir Walter Scott, would you like to visit Sir Walter Scott's former home - Abbotsford? Join in the celebrations with a virtual tour of Abbotsford, taking place on 20th January 2022 to discover the extraordinary space he created and some of the collections housed within.
Dive into The Historic Environment Scotland archives on 25th March 2022 an exhibition filled with sketches, photographs and drawings of buildings associated with Sir Walter Scott.
2022 is also Scotland's themed year - Year of Stories. You can find out more in the Latest News For Bookworms.
You might also like to visit the Writers Museum with its array of works not only dedicated to Sir Walter Scott but also Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), and one of my other favourites Robert Lewis Stevenson (Treasure Island). (Please visit the Writers Museum website for opening information).
I hope you enjoyed reading and are inspired to read or join in an event celebrating Sir Walter Scott. As always, I love to read your emails, messages, and comments. Sorry, if I am unable to answer you individually, I hope that grouping together topics/questions in blogs is helpful and informative.
Until next time....
* Update 03/01.2023 - Sir Walter Scott's Manuscript of Rob Roy To Be Displayed at National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.
For the first time in at least a century, members of the public will get to see the manuscript of ‘Rob Roy’.
Written in the hand of Sir Walter Scott, the manuscript will be on display at the ‘Treasures of the National Library of Scotland’ exhibition from March 2023.
The manuscript was among the many literary treasures that were held in a private collection called the Honresfield Library. Formed in the 19th century by mill owner William Law, the Honresfield Library’s contents were kept hidden from all but a few scholars until now. The items were due to be sold at auction in 2021. Fearing the items would be returned to private hands and possibly overseas, the library’s contents were purchased by a UK-wide consortium of organisations a year ago following an international fundraising campaign, and renamed the Blavatnik Honresfield Library in tribute to its majority donor.
The manuscript of ‘Rob Roy’ is one of the items that came to the National Library via this UK-wide acquisition of materials. Manuscripts Curator Ralph McLean, who worked with partners in securing this acquisition said:
“William Law formed a fairly close relationship with the Scott family and was able to buy material from them directly. This is how the manuscript ‘Rob Roy’ came to be in his private collection. The manuscript wasn’t always in the Scott family’s possession, however – its ownership tended to depend on how wealthy they were at any given time.
“When Sir Walter Scott and his business partners encountered financial difficulties after the crash of 1826 a number of his manuscripts were later auctioned off to reduce the debt incurred. ‘Rob Roy’ was sold, but was eventually bought back by Scott’s son-in-law John Gibson Lockhart, and returned to the Scott family in the mid-19th century. However once again, the family fell on hard times and it was purchased by William Law and added to his private library.”
‘Rob Roy’ was published in the early 19th century, the first run making up 10,000 copies which is a huge number for that time. Scott was still publishing anonymously, but the book was marketed as ‘written by the author of the Waverley novels’. As these novels were extremely popular, ‘Rob Roy’ sold out immediately. One of Scott’s most popular novels, it has never been out of print in the 200 plus years since it was first published.
Ralph McLean adds:
“What’s interesting is that Rob Roy himself isn’t a central character in the novel – he only appears sporadically throughout. It was actually Scott’s publisher who suggested the title. The depiction of Rob Roy MacGregor as a character in the novel undoubtedly added to the myths surrounding this person, as has subsequent depictions since in various media. We expect this will be one of the star attractions at our Treasures exhibition next year.” ‘Treasures of the National Library of Scotland’ is on at George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, and open Monday to Saturday. Entry is free.