Sir Walter Scott started as a poet, but is best known today for his historical romances. The first of these were written anonymously, others were published under amusing pseudonyms: Jebediah Cleisbotham Crystal Croftangry, Malachi Malagrowther, Lawrence Templeton, and Captain Clutterbuck, are a few of these. Scott was likely inspired by Sophia Lee's The Recess, in which Mary Queen of Scots is a character. Scott was also an admirer of the poetry of Matthew Lewis, especially Alonzo the Brave and Fair Imogine.

Waverley and its successors were so influential that even Ann Radcliffe's last novel was in this style. Other admirers and imitators were Bulwer-Lytton, Eliot, the Brontës, Austen, Maturin, Dickens, Ainsworth, Byron and Hardy.

Maria Edgeworth, was a long-time correspondant of Scott's, and they exchanged visits. Scott was delighted with her. Never did I see a brighter day at Abbotsford than that on which Miss Edgeworth first arrived there - never can I forget her look and accent ... [when she said] Everything about you is exactly what one ought to have wit enough to dream. Another correspondant who visited Abbotsford was Washington Irving.

Scott encouraged Maturin in his early work, and with Byron helped him mount his play Bertram at Drury Lane. He also helped James Hogg who, in turn, introduced Scott to many traditional border ballads. In 1813 he was offered the post of poet laureate but refused it, recommending Robert Southey.

Scott attended a reading of Coleridge's Christabel and was so impressed, he recited it to Byron, who set about getting a copy of it and arranging for its publication. Before it appeared, however, Scott had published a ballad of his own, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, using the same style and metre. Although he first denied it, (and even wrote two anonymous articles claiming that Coleridge was the imitator), the influence of Christabel is clear from such lines as, Jesu Maria, shield us well!

Scott's novel, the Bride of Lammermoor, was dictated while under the influence of opium. Scott could not remember any of it afterward, and read it through with great trepidation, not knowing what he might find in it. Wilkie Collins, who had a similar experience with The Moonstone, called it the greatest of all prose tragedies.

When William Wordsworth, boasted the greatest contempt for Aristotle. Scott retorted, but not, I take it, that contempt which familiarity breeds!

The verses to the well-known march, Hail to the Chief, now a traditional salute to the American Presidency, are from Scott's The Lady in the Lake.

Scott's son-in-law and biographer was the novelist J.G. Lockhart.

Wonderful man! [Scott] I long to get drunk with him.

Byron's diary, 1821

Gothic Labyrinth
Gothic Labyrinth