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Author Information: Sir Walter Scott

 
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(1771 - 1832) Novelist and Poet, born Edinburgh, Scotland
Scott created and popularized historical novels in a series called the Waverley Novels. In his novels Scott arranged the plots and characters so the reader enters into the lives of both great and ordinary people caught up in violent, dramatic changes in history.

Scott's work shows the influence of the 18th century enlightenment. He believed every human was basically decent regardless of class, religion, politics, or ancestry. Tolerance is a major theme in his historical works. The Waverley Novels express his belief in the need for social progress that does not reject the traditions of the past. He was the first novelist to portray peasant characters sympathetically and realistically, and was equally just to merchants, soldiers, and even kings.

Scott wrote frequently about the conflicts between different cultures. Ivanhoe (1791) deals with the struggle between Normans and Saxons, and the Talisman (1825) describes the conflict between Christians and Muslims. The novels dealing with Scottish history are probably Scott's best. They deal with clashes between new commercial English culture and an older Scottish culture. Many critics rank "Old Mortality" (1816), "The Heart of Midlothian" (1819), and "St Ronan's Well" (1824) as Scott's best novels. Other works in the Waverley series include "Rob Roy" (1817), "A Legend of Montrose" (1819), and "Quentin Dunward" (1823).

Scott's amiability, generosity, and modesty made him popular with his contemporaries. He was also famous for entertaining on a grand scale at his Scottish estate, Abbotsford.

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