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An Appreciation of Sir Walter Scott Part III – The Waverley Novels, Introduction and The First Four Novels

An Appreciation of Sir Walter Scott

Part III – The Waverley Novels, Introduction and The First Four Novels


The Waverley Novels are a long series of books by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). For nearly a century they were among the most popular and widely-read novels in all of Europe. Because he did not publicly acknowledge authorship until 1827, they take their name from Waverley (1814), which was the first. The later books bore the words “by the author of Waverley” on their title pages. More loosely, the term is used to refer to all of his novels. The Tales of my Landlord series was not advertised as “by the author of Waverley” but they are generally part of the collected editions.
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.

48 Volume Edition

The first full collection of works is referred to as “The Magnum Opus” Edition, published 1829-1833, and consisted of the following 48 volumes;

I Waverley I

II Waverley II

III Guy Mannering I

IV Guy Mannering II

V The Antiquary I

VI The Antiquary II

VII Rob Roy I


IX Old Mortality I

Vol X Old Mortality II

XI Heart of Mid-Lothian I

XII Heart of Mid-Lothian II

XIII Bride of Lammermoor I

XIV Bride of Lammermoor II

XV A Legend of Montrose

XVI Ivanhoe I

XVII Ivanhoe II

XVIII The Monastery I

XIX The Monastery II

XX The Abbott I

XXI The Abbot II

XXII Kennilworth I

XXIII Kennilworth II

XXIV The Pirate I

XXV The Pirate II

XXVI The Fortunes of Nigel I

XXVII The Fortunes of Nigel II

XXVII Peveril of the Peak I

XXIX Peveril of the Peak II

XXX Peveril of the Peak III

XXXI Quentin Durward I

XXXII Quentin Durward II

XXXIII St Ronan’s Well I

XXXIV St Ronan’s Well II

XXXV Red Gauntlet I

XXXVI Red Gauntlet II

XXXVII The Betrothed

XXXVIII The Talisman

XXXIX Woodstock I

XLWoodstock II

XLI The Highland Widow

XLII Fair Maid of Perth I

XLIII Fair Maid of Perth II

XLIV Anne of Geierstein I

XLV Anne of Geierstein II

XLVI Count Robert of Paris I

XLVII Count Robert of Paris II, Castle Dangerous

XLVIII Castle Dangerous, The Surgeon’s Daughter

Subsequent editions were published in 48 and 24/25 volume editions.

24/25 Volume Editions

The 24/25 volume editions are generally as follows;

I Waverley

II Guy Mannering

III The Antiquary

IV Rob Roy

V Old Mortality

VI Heart Of Midlothian

VII Montrose /Blackdwarf

VIII The Bride Of Lammermoor

IX Ivanhoe

X The Monastery

XI The Abbot

XII Kenilworth

XIII The Pirate

XIV The Fortunes Of Nigel

XV Peveril Of The Peak

XVI Quentin Durward

XVII St. Ronan’s Well

XVIII Red Gauntlet

XIX The Betrothed/Talisman

XX Woodstock

XXI Fair Maid of Perth

XXII Anne Of Geierstein

XXIII Count Robert Of Paris/The Surgeon’s Daughter

XXIV Castle Dangerous /Chronicles etc.

The differences between the 24 and 25 volume editions is marginal and is due to the way the publishers collated the shorter novels, from volume XIX onwards. The overall content for the works is unchanged.

There may also be a uniformly bound autobiography of Sir Walter Scott, normally in two volumes. The Life of Sir Walter Scott by J G Lockhart.

The First Four Waverley Novels

The first four Waverley Novels were;
Waverley(1814), Guy Mannering(1815), The Antiquary(1816) and Rob Roy(1817).

Waverley, or, Tis Sixty Years Since

The period is 1745-1746 and the main setting is Perthshire, Scotland. Waverley is an historical novel by Sir Walter Scott. Initially published anonymously in 1814 as Scott’s first venture into prose fiction, Waverley is often regarded as the first historical novel.
Waverley is set during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which sought to restore the Stuart dynasty in the person of Charles Edward Stuart (or ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’). It relates the story of a young dreamer and English soldier, Edward Waverley, who was sent to Scotland in 1745. He journeys North from his aristocratic family home, Waverley-Honour, in the south of England first to the Scottish Lowlands and the home of family friend Baron Bradwardine, then into the Highlands and the heart of the 1745 Jacobite uprising and aftermath.
Upon publication, Waverley was an astonishing success, the first edition of one thousand copies sold out within two days of publication, and by November a fourth edition was at the presses.
Guy Mannering or The Astrologer

Guy Mannering, or The Astrologer, was Walter Scott’s second novel, first published anonymously in 1815. According to an introduction that Scott wrote in 1829, he had originally intended to write a story of the supernatural, but changed his mind soon after starting. The book was a huge success, selling out the day after its first edition.
Guy Mannering is set in the 1760s to 1780s, mostly in the Galloway area of southwest Scotland, but with episodes in Cumberland, Holland, and India. It tells the story of Harry Bertram, the son of the Laird of Ellangowan, who is kidnapped at the age of five by smugglers after witnessing the murder of a customs officer. It follows the fortunes and adventures of Henry and his family in subsequent years and the struggle over the inheritance of Ellangowan. The novel also depicts the lawlessness that existed at the time, when smugglers operated along the coast and thieves frequented the country roads.
The Antiquary

The period is the 1790’s and the main setting is Angus, Scotland. The Antiquary (1816) is a novel by Sir Walter Scott about several characters including an amateur historian, archaeologist and collector of items of dubious antiquity. Although he is the eponymous character, he is not necessarily the hero, as many of the characters around him undergo far more significant journeys or change. Instead, he provides a central figure (and location) for other more exciting characters and events – on which he provides a sardonic commentary. This is Scott’s gothic novel, redolent with family secrets, stories of hidden treasure and hopeless love, with a mysterious, handsome, young man, benighted aristocracy and a night-time funeral procession to a ruined abbey, no less. But the romance and mystery is counterpoised by some of Scott’s more down-to-earth characters, and grittily unromantic events.

The third of the Waverley Novels is dominated by two old men, Jonathan Oldbuck (the Antiquary of the title) and the beggar Edie Ochiltree. Together they apply their knowledge of the past to sort out the confusion of the present, and in doing so restore the fortunes of ancient houses. This was Scott’s favourite among his novels, and presents a quizzical and amusing view of the profession of history and, by implication, of Scott’s own practice as writer and collector.

Rob Roy

The period is the 1715-16 and the main setting is Loch Lomond, Scotland. Rob Roy (1817) is a novel by Walter Scott about Frank Osbaldistone, the son of an English merchant who goes to the Scottish Highlands to collect a debt stolen from his father. Rob Roy MacGregor, whom the book is named after, appears in the book several times but is not the lead character (in fact the narrative does not move to Scotland until half way through the book).
The story takes place at the time of the ’15 Jacobite Rising. Frank Osbaldistone, the narrator, quarrels with his father and is sent to stay with an uncle, Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone, in Northumberland. Banished from his father’s house, Frank Osbaldistone becomes involved in the conspiracy surrounding the disastrous Jacobite rising of 1715. His adventures take him to “MacGregor’s country”, across the Highland Line, where he finds cruelty, heartbreak, and some unlikely friends one of which is Robert Roy MacGregor, a famous Scottish folk hero who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He was considered an outlaw of the early 18th century by the nobles and leaders.
The novel is a brutally realistic depiction of the social conditions in Highland and Lowland Scotland in the early 18th Century.

Coming Soon Read Part IV More Waverley Novels.

An Appreciation of Sir Walter Scott in Ten Parts
Part I – Walter Scott, A Short Biography.
Part II – Scott The Poet.
Part III – The Waverley Novels, Introduction and The First Four Novels
Part IV – The Waverley Novels continued.
Part V – The Waverley Novels continued.
Part VI – The Waverley Novels cont. (The Pirate, The Fortunes of Nigel, Peveril of the Peak, Quentin Durward )
Parts VII-VIII – The Waverley Novels. (Coming Soon)
Part IX – Locations Associated with Sir Walter Scott. (Coming Soon)
Part X – Short Bibliography including Editions of The Waverley Novels. (Coming Soon)

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2 thoughts on “An Appreciation of Sir Walter Scott Part III – The Waverley Novels, Introduction and The First Four Novels

  1. wha’s your favourite one ?

    1. My favourite novel is Waverley because that is where I started but I did really enjoy Anne of Geierstein

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