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MonkeyNotes-Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

SIR WALTER SCOTT

Walter Scott was born in the city of Edinburgh in Scotland on August 15, 1771. He was one of ten children. His father was a farmer, and his mother was the daughter of Dr. John Rutherford, a well-known doctor and one of the founders of Edinburgh's medical school. Always in poor health as a child, Scott suffered a kind of paralysis in infancy, which left him lame and unable to follow many of the pursuits of other boys. Instead, he developed a love of reading and was enchanted by the poetry recited by his mother and the anecdotes she related. Scott spent much of his early life visiting castles and battlefields and listening to oral history and legends. He avidly read the English, German, French, Spanish and Italian classics. He also read many memoirs, travel books, and historical documents.

Scott had an astonishing memory, evident in his writing of Ivanhoe, a novel in which he has drawn heavily on recollections of castles, heraldry, medieval armor, and historic artifacts. Like the knights in his books, Scott was an accomplished horseman. Like the outlaws, he was an expert woodsman, hunter, and fisherman. He was also a hard worker, getting up at five in the morning to do much of his writing before breakfast. The first of his many novels was published in 1814. Scott received his title of baron from King George IV in 1820.

Scott published over thirty books in his lifetime. His best known novels include Waverly (1814), Guy Mannering (1815), The Antiquary, The Black Dwarf, and Old Mortality (1816), Rob Roy (1818), The Heart of the Midlothian (1818), The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), The Legend of Montrose (1819), Ivanhoe, The Monastery, The Abbot (1820), Kenilworth (1821), The Fortunes of Nigel (1822), Peveril of the Peak, Quentin Durward (1823), Redgauntlet (1824), The Talisman (1825) and Woodstock (1826).


In 1826, one of Scott's publishing ventures collapsed, leaving him with a debt of over one million dollars. Then his wife, Charlotte Carpenter, died. Grief-stricken but undaunted, Scott refused to take advantage of the Bankruptcy Act or a government offer of a pension. He even refused many offers of financial help from friends. Instead, he began the enormous task of writing to pay off his indebtedness. Within fifteen years, his royalties paid off every penny that he owed. Scott died in 1832, leaving three sons and two daughters.

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