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Scott, Walter

ivanhoe francis jacobite roy

(British, 1771–1832)

Scott was born in Edinburgh, where he studied law at the University and became a barrister in 1792. From his early years he acquired the deep familiarity with the ballad and folk-tale traditions of the border regions which strongly informs his work in both verse and prose. Initially famous for his narrative poems, after 1814 Scott devoted himself to the historical novel, a form he effectively invented. The social realism of his fiction and its balance between rational and romantic elements had a marked influence on the course of nineteenth-century writing. His vast scope in the creation of character and his work's vivid richness of detail are qualities that make his novels enduringly readable. The leisurely pace with which his narratives unfold their plots and multiple subplots is underpinned by frequent passages of high drama and emotional intensity. Begin with The Heart of Midlothian (1818). At the opening, its heroine Effie Deans awaits trial for infanticide in Edinburgh's Tolbooth Prison while the Porteous riot of 1736 rages outside. Reprieved from execution by Queen Caroline, Effie marries to become Lady Staunton and enters London society. Ivanhoe (1819) is set in the reign of Richard I, whom Wilfred of Ivanhoe serves on the Crusade in Palestine. Having returned to England in disguise, Richard and Ivanhoe triumph over the enemies of the crown in the great tournament at Ashby de la Zouch. The epic narrative of swashbuckling chivalry ends with the King intervening to reunite Ivanhoe and his beloved Rowena. Set in turbulent eighteenth-century Scotland, Redgauntlet (1824) concerns an attempt to put Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne in 1765. Herries of Birrenswork, a die-hard Jacobite fanatic, kidnaps his nephew Darsie Latimer, the head of the House of Redgauntlet, in his efforts to gain support for the planned rebellion. Darsie rejects his uncle's sense of historical destiny, which is buried with the last Jacobite hopes when the rising fails. Woodstock (1826) deals with events following Charles II's defeat at the battle of Worcester in 1651. Disguised as a page, he seeks refuge at Woodstock lodge, where he is helped to escape by Sir Henry Lee and his family following the arrival of Cromwell and his troops. The novel ends with the reconciliation of Sir Henry and his honourable but misguided Roundhead nephew, Colonel Everard, who, having assisted in the King's escape, marries Alice, Sir Henry's daughter. Rob Roy (1817) opens with Francis Osbaldistone's arrival at his uncle's home in the Cheviot hills. Threatened with the destruction of his family's fortunes by his cousin Rashleigh, Francis travels north to enlist the help of the outlaw Rob Roy Macgregor. Rob Roy ultimately kills Rashleigh for betraying Jacobite plans for the rising of 1715, leaving Francis to enjoy his malevolent cousin's inheritance.

Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, James Fenimore Cooper. See HISTORICAL  DH

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