In our first “Writers Lost and Found” segment, iUniverse discussed the reasons for why some great writers have been forgotten or increasingly ignored over the years. iUniverse believes that excellent writers – particularly successful ones – are superb sources from which aspiring authors can learn.
Today, we discuss the writing propensities of Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish writer whose life dates, 1771-1832, have been used to demark the Romantic period in Literature. Scott was once considered household reading as well as required reading for high school classes, though his reputation has declined due to the whims of modern academics (see first installment) and criticism from Mark Twain (who actually owed a lot of his writing approach to Scott).
A lawyer by profession, Scott was the most successful novelist of his day. He wrote prolifically and was able to save a large holding company from bankruptcy with the proceeds from his novels. Meanwhile, he built a large estate called Abbotsford and otherwise lived the life of a prosperous country gentleman.
Scott was the first major writer of historical fiction, and it is due to him that the genre gained popularity. Nearly all of Scott’s novels take place at some period of Scottish history, though his most famous book, Ivanhoe, takes place in England during the late 1100s, in the reign of Richard the Lion-hearted. Scott harnessed the interest that readers had in ancient and past times and fused it with well-written storytelling.
Another aspect of Scott’s novels is his use of regionalism. Many of his Waverley novels (the general term for Scott’s books) take place in the Scottish countryside, particularly in the Highlands. These places of splendid natural beauty and mystery formed memorable backdrops to his tales of bravery and heroism. In short, he brought a place to life that was otherwise remote and inaccessible. Writers that can do the same will find themselves admired by many readers.
Some novels by Scott that you may enjoy include:
The Heart of Midlothian