“Waverley” or “’Tis Sixty Years Since” the first novel by Sir Walter Scott tells the story of Edward Waverley who gets involved in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. The novel tells about authentic battles during the rebellion and is therefore considered the first historic novel ever written. Published anonymously on 7 July 1814 it took not only Edinburgh but also the rest of Great Britain by storm and proved a popular sensation. It guided the way following generations wrote and understood history. The enormous impact as the prototypical English historical novel soon made it the most successful work of its kind and for the first time in history the novel became a respectable form.
On that account this assessment will have a closer look at the creation and success of the novel “Waverley” by Sir Walter Scott, by giving an overview over the impact it had when it was published, the publisher and printer and the author himself and analysing the reasons for its success and fast dissemination. The paper will close with a summary and conclusion.
2. The Author
Sir Walter Scott was born of a border family in 1771 in Edinburgh, where he also attended the University of Edinburgh. After becoming an advocate in 1792 and being appointed Sheriff-Depute for the county of Selkirk in 1799, he was appointed Clerk of the Court of Session in 1806, which he held until the end of his life.
His first major publication in 1802 was a collection of ballads entitled: “The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border”, this and the following publications like “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” in 1805 and “The Lady of the Lake” in 1810 made him famous as a poet.
When he published his first novel “Waverley” in 1814 the success was phenomenal and it established Walter Scott as a novelist with an international reputation, which caused him to proceed with further novels, creating a series of novels called “The Waverley Novels” with “Waverley” as the first book of the series.
The last years of his life Scott spend in illness and the need to continue his writing to pay off the debts he had, caused by the financial struck of the printing house J. Ballantyne and Co.
3. Publishing and Printing
“Waverley” was written in three volumes; it was completed on 1 July 1814 and published on 7 July 1814 for the price of one guinea. Scott started writing the novel already in 1805, when he showed the first seven chapters to a friend, his opinion didn’t please Scott so he stopped working on it. In 1813 he came across the manuscript by accident and decided to complete the first volume, the second and third volume were finished in only three weeks. The novel was published anonymously and to preserve this anonymity Scott asked John Ballantyne to copy the manuscript out in his handwriting before sending it to press.