Waverley (novel)

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Waverley (novel) cover.jpg
First Edinburgh edition
Author Walter Scott
Original titleWaverley; or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since
LanguageEnglish, Lowland Scots; some Scottish Gaelic and French
Series Waverley novels
Genre Historical novel
Set inScotland, 1745–46
Publisher Archibald Constable & Co. (Edinburgh); Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown (London)
Publication date
Media typePrint
Pages365 (Edinburgh Edition, 2007)
LC Class PR5322 .W4
Followed by Guy Mannering  

Waverley; or, 'Tis Sixty Years Since /ˈwvərl/ [1] [2] is a historical novel by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832). Published anonymously in 1814 as Scott's first venture into prose fiction, it is often regarded as one of the first historical novels in the Western tradition.

Walter Scott 18th/19th-century Scottish historical novelist, poet and playwright

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.

Debut novel first published by an author

A debut novel is the first novel a novelist publishes. Debut novels are often the author's first opportunity to make an impact on the publishing industry, and thus the success or failure of a debut novel can affect the ability of the author to publish in the future. First-time novelists without a previous published reputation, such as publication in nonfiction, magazines, or literary journals, typically struggle to find a publisher.


Edward Waverley, an English gentleman of honour, chooses an occupation in the army at the time just before the Jacobite uprising of 1745 on advice of his father. He has an officer's commission. On leave from army training, he visits friends of his family in Scotland, as he is not far from their place. He enjoys their Scottish hospitality. His head is full of the romantic notions of his unstructured education, including much reading, and he is startled to find himself in the midst of loyalists who support the return of the Stuart king, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie to his supporters and as the usurper to his foes. His honour is often challenged as others interfere to push him to the Stuart side, where he is in battle, and he meets two women with whom he falls in love in turn, until he chooses one. His gentlemanly actions gain him friends in this precarious situation, on both sides of the uprising, who stand him in good stead when he is at risk from his own government when the uprising is put down.

Jacobite risings series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland

The Jacobite risings, also known as the Jacobite rebellions or the War of the British Succession, were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746. The uprisings had the aim of returning James II of England and VII of Scotland, the last Catholic British monarch, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne of Great Britain after they had been deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The series of conflicts takes its name Jacobitism, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James.

Charles Edward Stuart Jacobite pretender to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France

Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart was the elder son of James Francis Edward Stuart, grandson of James II and VII, and the Stuart claimant to the throne of Great Britain after 1766. During his lifetime, he was also known as "the Young Pretender" and "the Young Chevalier"; in popular memory, he is "Bonnie Prince Charlie". He is best remembered for his role in the 1745 rising; his defeat at Culloden in April 1746 effectively ended the Stuart cause, and subsequent attempts failed to materialise, such as a planned French invasion in 1759. His escape from Scotland after the uprising led to his portrayal as a romantic figure of heroic failure.

The book became so popular that Scott's later novels were published as being "by the author of Waverley". His series of works on similar themes written during the same period have become collectively known as the "Waverley Novels". The novel was well-received by contemporary critics, and well-liked by those who purchased novels in the early 19th century. It has continued in favour with later critics.

Waverley Novels

The Waverley Novels are a long series of novels by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832). For nearly a century, they were among the most popular and widely read novels in all of Europe.

Composition and sources

Evidence about the composition of the first volume of Waverley is inconclusive, but it was probably begun in 1808 and laid aside, continued in 1810 and again laid aside, and eventually taken up and completed in the later part of 1813. The second and third volumes were written in the spring and early summer of 1814. Scott had an intimate acquaintance with Jacobite history, and Waverley draws on an extensive range of anecdotal and historical literary material.

Scott had an unrivalled acquaintance with Jacobite history, written and oral, accumulated over many years, and Waverley draws on an extraordinary range of anecdotal and historical literary material. He had talked to people who had been involved in the '45 or to those who had known them. He drew on the resources of his extensive library for relevant printed material. Among the most consistently helpful books were:

John Home Scottish playwright and Presbyterian minister

Rev John Home FRSE was a Scottish minister, soldier and author. His play Douglas was a standard Scottish school text until the Second World War, but his work is now largely neglected. In 1783 he was one of the joint founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Edmund Burt also known as Edward Burt was an author and rent collector for the British government, was born in England. In 1725, he referred to his wife living in London. On 31 May 1725, he was appointed Receiver General and Collector of Rents on the unsold Forfeited Estates in Scotland, and from 24 June, received £400 per annum to cover salary and expenses. Virtually all the Scottish estates forfeited after the Jacobite rising of 1715 had been sold except for those of Glenmoriston and Seaforth, and Burt was concerned with collecting rents on them until they too were sold, in 1730 and 1741 respectively. His work involved close co-operation with General George Wade, however he had no part in the building of the ‘Wade roads’ in the Highlands. A letter by a magistrate of Inverness dated 1 January 1726 reveals that Burt was then a Justice of the Peace, part of the 'haughty, keen and unsupportable government of these military and stranger judges set over us'. By 1733 he had also become manager of the lead mines at Strontian in Argyll, and he continued to be employed in the Highlands for some years after 1741.

Donald Macintosh (1743–1808) was a Scottish clergyman, a nonjuror of the Scottish Episcopal Church, known as a scholar of Scottish Gaelic.


The first edition of Waverley, in three volumes, consisting of 1000 copies, was on sale in Edinburgh on 7 July 1814 and in London shortly afterwards. As with all the Waverley novels before 1827 publication was anonymous. It was followed by two further editions, together comprising 4000 copies, in the same year, with small authorial revisions, and by several more editions extending into the early 1820s: Scott was involved in at least one of these, the sixth edition of 1816. In early 1826 Scott returned to Waverley, revising the text and writing an introduction and notes for a complete edition of the Waverley Novels: this took some time to materialise after the 1826 financial crash, but eventually the novel appeared as the first and second volumes of the 'Magnum' edition in June and July 1829. The first critical edition, by Claire Lamont, was published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in 1981. The standard edition is now that edited by P. D. Garside in 2007, as the first volume of the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels: this is based on the first edition with emendations to restore authorial readings from the manuscript and the second and third editions. The new Magnum material is included in Volume 25a.



It is the time of the Jacobite uprising of 1745 which sought to restore the Stuart dynasty in the person of Charles Edward Stuart, known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie". A young English dreamer and soldier, Edward Waverley, is sent to Scotland that year. 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 rebellion and its aftermath.

Jacobite rising of 1745 attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart

The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the '45, was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the bulk of the British Army was fighting in mainland Europe, and proved to be the last in a series of revolts that began in 1689, with major outbreaks in 1708, 1715 and 1719.

Scottish Lowlands cultural and historic region of Scotland

The Lowlands are a cultural and historic region of Scotland.

Scottish Highlands Place

The Highlands is a historic region of Scotland. Culturally, the Highlands and the Lowlands diverged from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands. The term is also used for the area north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A' Ghàidhealtachd literally means "the place of the Gaels" and traditionally, from a Gaelic-speaking point of view, includes both the Western Isles and the Highlands.

Plot summary

Edward is at ease in the family estate owned his uncle, Sir Everard Waverley, who maintains the family's traditional Tory and Jacobite sympathies. He spends time with his parents as well, though less time after his mother dies when he is about 12 or 13 years old. His Whig father works for the Hanoverian government in nearby Westminster. Edward has a sense of his honour, but he starts life with no political affiliation. Edward is given a commission in the Hanoverian army by his father and posted to Dundee. After some military training, he takes leave to visit Baron Bradwardine, a friend of his uncle, and meets the peer's lovely daughter Rose.

Disbanded, Waverley in Highland garb, illustration to 1893 edition, by J Pettie. Walter Scott Waverley illustration (Pettie-Huth).jpg
Disbanded, Waverley in Highland garb, illustration to 1893 edition, by J Pettie.

When wild Highlanders visit Bradwardine's castle, Edward is intrigued and goes to the mountain lair of the Clan Mac-Ivor, meeting the Chieftain Fergus and his sister Flora, who turn out to be active Jacobites preparing for the insurrection. Edward has overstayed his leave and is accused of desertion and treason, then arrested. The highlanders rescue him from his escort and take him to the Jacobite stronghold at Doune Castle, then on to Holyrood Palace, where he meets Bonnie Prince Charlie, with whom he is charmed.

Encouraged by the beautiful Flora Mac-Ivor, Edward goes over to the Jacobite cause and takes part in the Battle of Prestonpans of September 1745. The battle is recounted in some detail. Undaunted by the light, inaccurate guns, the Highlander army continues its charge; however, the centre becomes bogged down in marshy land, and in driving forward the men's different speeds of advance cause them to form into a "V". One of the soldiers who tumbles into the marsh is the Hanoverian Colonel Talbot, whom Waverley picks up on his horse, saving his life. This man is a close friend of his Waverley uncle. Edward gets separated from Fergus and both their bands in one battle that the government troops were winning. Edward finds local people who take him in until he can leave safely after events are calmer and the snows are gone. He sees a newspaper that informs him that his father has died, so he heads to London.

When the Jacobite cause fails in 1746, Talbot intervenes to get Edward a pardon. Edward visits the decrepit estate of Baron Bradwardine, attacked by soldiers. After making contact with the Baron, he asks for his daughter's hand in marriage, and soon is the established lover of Rose. The Baron is also pardoned. Edward seeks Flora the day before her brother's trial; she plans to join a convent in France. Edward then attends the trial in Carlisle at which Fergus Mac-Ivor is condemned to death, and is with him in the hours before his execution. Edward then returns to his uncle and aunt on the Waverley Honour and begins preparations for their wedding and also to make the legal appearances to assure the pardons of Edward and his future father-in-law. The Talbots restore the Baron's estate, taken from him for his Jacobite activities, and repair it completely, restored to the original appearance with Bradwardine's family crests. The Talbots bought their own estate near Waverley Honour, while the Baron's family estate is restored to his ownership by Edward Waverley, using the funds from selling his late father's home.


Principal characters in bold

Chapter summary

Volume One

Ch. 1 Introductory: The author introduces his work to the reader.

Ch. 2 Waverley Honour.---A Retrospect: Edward Waverley's father Richard defects to the Whigs, which almost leads his older brother Sir Everard, a confirmed Tory and bachelor, to disinherit him and his family, but he has second thoughts and warms to Edward as a young boy.

Ch. 3 Education: Transferred to Sir Everard's seat, Waverley-Honour, to be educated by his chaplain Mr Pembroke, Edward is allowed to follow a lively but undisciplined course of reading which stimulates his imagination rather than benefiting his understanding.

Ch. 4 Castle-building: The adolescent Edward is induced by stories of family history told by his aunt Rachael to indulge in fanciful meditation.

Ch. 5 Choice of a Profession: To prevent Edward succumbing to the charms of a local beauty Miss Cæcilia Stubbs, Rachael sets in train negotiations which result in his receiving an army commission. The author apologises for the lengthy but necessary introductory chapters.

Ch. 6 The Adieus of Waverley: Sir Everard gives Edward a letter of introduction to Cosmo Bradwardine, Baron of Tully-Veolan, whom he had befriended after the 1715 uprising, and the chaplain Mr Pembroke saddles him with a voluminous set of his manuscript sermons.

Ch. 7 A Horse-quarter in Scotland: Edward finds military life in Angus boring and obtains from his commanding officer Colonel G——— a few weeks' leave of absence to make an excursion.

Ch. 8 A Scottish Manor House Sixty Years Since: Edward arrives at the hamlet and estate of Tully-Veolan.

Ch. 9 More of the Manor House and its Environs: Edward encounters a half-wit servant David Gellatley who introduces him to the butler.

Ch. 10 Rose Bradwardine and her Father: Edward encounters Rose Bradwardine and her father, who gives an account of four guests expected for dinner.

Ch. 11 The Banquet: After a bibulous meal Balmawhapple insults Edward at the local inn.

Ch. 12 Repentance, and a Reconciliation: Bradwardine reconciles Edward and an apologetic Balmawhapple. Rose tells Gellatley's story.

Ch. 13 A More Rational Day than the Last: After hunting with Bradwardine, Edward is entertained by Rose, who tells how Gellatley's mother Janet had been regarded as a witch.

Ch. 14 A Discovery---Waverley becomes Domesticated at Tully-Veolan: Prompted by Gellatley, Edward discovers that Bradwardine has fought Balmawhapple on his behalf. Rose is increasingly attracted by Edward.

Ch. 15 A Creagh, and its Consequences: Some six weeks into Edward's stay theTully-Veolan cattle are stolen, Bradwardine having refused to continue paying 'black-mail' to Fergus Mac-Ivor.

Ch. 16 An Unexpected Ally Appears: Evan Dhu Maccombich arrives from Fergus to make peace, and Edward sets out with him to experience the Highlands.

Ch. 17 The Hold of a Highland Robber: Edward is entertained in Donald Bean Lean's cave.

Ch. 18 Waverley Proceeds on his Journey: In the morning Donald's daughter Alice tends Edward before Evan takes him on to meet Fergus.

Ch. 19 The Chief and his Mansion: The narrator provides a sketch of Fergus, who escorts Edward to his house of Glennaquoich.

Ch. 20 A Highland Feast: Edward participates with the clan Mac-Ivor in a substantial meal.

Ch. 21 The Chieftain's Sister: The narrator provides a sketch of Fergus's sister Flora.

Ch. 22 Highland Minstrelsy: Flora explains Highland minstrelsy to Edward and sings a song to a harp by a waterfall.

Ch. 23 Waverley Continues at Glennaquoich: Flora expresses to Edward her view of Bradwardine and Rose.

Volume Two

Ch. 1 (24) A Stag-Hunting and its Consequences: Edward is injured during a stag-hunt and recuperates for a week before returning to Glennaquoich.

Ch. 2 (25) News from England: Letters from England inform Edward that his father has engaged in political intrigue and been dismissed from government service. He also receives a peremptory note from Colonel G——— demanding his immediate return, to which he responds by resigning his commission. After showing Edward a newspaper report of his replacement as captain, Fergus indicates that he can help him to be revenged for the injustice.

Ch. 3 (26) An Eclaircissement: After expressing reservations about Edward joining the Jacobites, Flora asks for an hour to consider his profession of love for her.

Ch. 4 (27) Upon the Same Subject: Flora indicates to Edward that she can never fulfil his idea of domestic happiness and urges him to return to England.

Ch. 5 (28) A Letter from Tully-Veolan: Gellatley delivers a letter from Rose warning Edward that a search for him is under way. He decides to go to Edinburgh to justify his conduct.

Ch. 6 (29) Waverley's Reception in the Lowlands after his Highland Tour: Callum Beg escorts Edward to the Lowlands. Before an innkeeper Ebenezer Cruickshanks takes over as guide, Callum gives Edward a letter from Fergus enclosing a poem by Flora on the grave of an English captain.

Ch. 7 (30) Shows that the Loss of a Horse's Shoe may be a Serious Inconvenience: A political altercation between a blacksmith Micklewrath and his wife results in Edward being suspected of Jacobite allegiance; he shoots in self-defence, wounding the smith.

Ch. 8 (31) An Examination: Edward is examined by the Justice of the Peace Major Mellville, with Mr Morton the minister; the case against him mounts up, including evidence that by means of an agent he had tempted his compatriot Sergeant Houghton to desert to the Jacobite cause.

Ch. 9 (32) A Conference, and the Consequences: Morton and Mellville discuss Edward's case, and the Colonel decides to ask the Cameronian Gilfillan to escort him to Stirling.

Ch. 10 (33) Morton encourages Edward and gives him information about Gilfillan.

Ch. 11 (34) Things Mend a Little: Edward shares an increasingly relaxed meal with Mellville and Morton which is interrupted by the sound of Gilfillan's drum.

Ch. 12 (35) A Volunteer Sixty Years Since: Edward is entrusted to Gilfillan.

Ch. 13 (36) An Incident: Gilfillan's band is joined by a (pretended) pedlar whose whistle prompts eight Highlanders to rescue Edward.

Ch. 14 (37) Waverley is Still in Duresse: Edward is tended in a hut by Janet and a mysterious female. Alice Bean Lean draws his attention as she puts a packet in his portmanteau.

Ch. 15 (38) A Nocturnal Adventure: After passing English troops, Edward is conducted to Doune Castle.

Ch. 16 (39) The Journey is Continued: Edward is conducted to Edinburgh by a party under Balmawhapple.

Ch. 17 (40) An Old and a New Acquaintance: Fergus introduces Edward to Prince Charles, to whom he gives his allegiance.

Ch. 18 (41) The Mystery Begins to be Cleared Up: Fergus tells Edward he is sure that the apparent pedlar in Ch. 36 was Donald Bean Lean. They are joined by Bradwardine.

Ch. 19 (42) A Soldier's Dinner: Edward is provided with a tartan outfit. Fergus, Bradwardine, and Macwheeble discuss the forthcoming battle.

Ch. 20 (43) The Ball: On the eve of battle Edward is encouraged by Charles in his pursuit of Flora and impresses her with his spirited conduct at the ball.

Ch. 21 (44) The March: Edward observes the assembled Jacobite forces at Holyrood.

Ch. 22 (45) An Incident Gives Rise to Unavailing Reflections: Edward encounters the mortally wounded Houghton, who has been reduced to the ranks.

Ch. 23 (46) The Eve of Battle: Edward, though tormented by the thought that he is a traitor, joins in the preparations for battle.

Ch. 24 (47) The Conflict: During the battle of Prestonpans Edward accepts the surrender of Colonel Talbot and sees Colonel G——— fall; Balmawhapple is also killed.

Volume Three

Ch. 1 (48) An Unexpected Embarrassment: Bradwardine is worried he may not be able to carry out his feudal duty of taking off Charles's boots since he wears brogues, but he finds a pedantic solution.

Ch. 2 (49) The English Prisoner: Talbot reproaches Edward for his defection.

Ch. 3 (50) Rather Unimportant: Committed by Charles to Edward's care, Talbot agrees not to attempt to escape without his knowledge.

Ch. 4 (51) Intrigues of Love and Politics: Edward examines the packet in his portmanteau which contains earlier letters from Colonel G——— requesting his return from the Highlands. Further details provided by John Hodges (amplified by the narrator) make clear Donald Bean Lean's role in pretending to be Edward's agent as the pedlar Ruthven or Ruffen.

Ch. 5 (52) Intrigues of Society and Love: Edward gets to know the manly but prejudiced Talbot better and is increasingly attracted by Rose. Flora tells Rose that Edward is destined to domestic tranquillity.

Ch. 6 (53) Fergus, a Suitor: Fergus informs Edward that he intended to marry Rose, but that Charles has indicated her affections are engaged elsewhere.

Ch. 7 (54) "To One Thing Constant Never": Flora uses a reading of Romeo and Juliet to direct Edward towards Rose rather than herself.

Ch. 8 (55) A Brave Man in Sorrow: Edward learns from Talbot that his wife, distressed by the news from Scotland, has lost her baby and is seriously ill.

Ch. 9 (56) Exertion: Edward presents Talbot with a pass from Charles to proceed to England.

Ch. 10 (57) The March: As the Jacobite army marches south Fergus expresses his anger at Edward's rejection of Flora.

Ch. 11 (58) The Confusion of King Agramant's Camp: Callum fires at Edward, who he thinks has insulted the clan, and is struck senseless by Fergus. Fergus instigates a duel with Edward, but Charles interrupts them and explains that he had mistakenly taken Edward to be Rose's accepted lover.

Ch. 12 (59) A Skirmish: In Cumberland, Fergus tells Edward that he has seen the Bodach glas, a spirit foretelling his own imminent death. Their party is defeated in a skirmish.

Ch. 13 (60) A Chapter of Accidents: Edward is given shelter by a farmer near Ullswater.

Ch. 14 (61) A Journey to London: Learning from a newspaper of his father's death and of Sir Everard's impending trial for high treason in his nephew's absence, Edward makes his way to London; he is embarrassed en route by the enquires of Mrs Nosebag, a military wife.

Ch. 15 (62) What's to be Done Next?: Talbot tells Edward that the report of Sir Everard's accusation is false and arranges for him to travel back to Scotland posing as his nephew.

Ch. 16 (63) Desolation: After being informed by Mrs Flockhart, Fergus's Edinburgh landlady, that the chieftain is to stand trial at Carlisle, Edward makes his way to a vandalised Tully-Veolan where Gellatley leads him to Bradwardine in Janet's hut.

Ch. 17 (64) Comparing of Notes: Bradwardine updates Edward.

Ch. 18 (65) More Explanation: At dawn Edward escorts Bradwardine to his hiding-place in a cave. Janet explains some remaining mysteries, including the fact that Rose was the mysterious female in attendance in Ch. 37, having bribed Donald Bean Lean to rescue him.

Ch. 19 (66): Edward visits Baillie Macwheeble and receives a letter from Talbot with royal pardons for Bradwardine and himself.

Ch. 20 (67): Edward tells Bradwardine of his pardon and is accepted as Rose's fiancé. In Edinburgh Talbot says he can do nothing to save Fergus.

Ch. 21 (68): Edward reaches Carlyle as Fergus and Maccombich are sentenced and has an interview with Flora.

Ch. 22 (69): Edward bids Fergus farewell as the chieftain is taken for execution.

Ch. 23 (70) Dulce Domum: After preparations in England and Scotland Edward and Rose are married.

Ch. 24 (71): The wedding party visit Tully-Veolan, marvellously repaired, and Talbot indicates that he has arranged for it to be restored to Bradwardine and his heirs from the family member to whom it had passed on the baron's forfeiture.

Ch. 25 (72) A Postscript, which should have been a Preface: The author ends with a set of comments on the foregoing work and a dedication to Henry Mackenzie.

Themes and motifs


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." [3]

According to L J Swingle, discussing the writers of the Romantic period:

This inquiry as to the distinctive natures of different things explains why particular mental orientations or crucial turns of thought in the literature of the period are frequently marked by some kind of "species" identification. Probably the most dramatic example occurs in Frankenstein, when the title character -- after wavering between opposed truth-possibilities in a manner that recalls Scott's Edward Waverley -- finally finds himself (literally) in identification with his own species [4]


The literary critic Alexander Welsh suggests that Scott exhibits similar preoccupations within his own novels. The heroines of the Waverley series of novels have been divided into two types: the blonde and the brunette, along the lines of fairness and darkness that marks Shakespearean drama, but in a much more moderate form. [5] Welsh writes:

The proper heroine of Scott is a blonde. Her role corresponds to that of the passive hero – whom, indeed, she marries at the end. She is eminently beautiful, and eminently prudent. Like the passive hero, she suffers in the thick of events but seldom moves them. The several dark heroines, no less beautiful, are less restrained from the pressure of their own feelings...They allow their feelings to dictate to their reason, and seem to symbolize passion itself. [5]

This is evident in Waverley. Rose is eminently marriageable; Flora is eminently passionate. However, we should also note that Welsh is, first, establishing a typology which in part is age-old, but also reinforced throughout the Waverley Novels; second, that Scott, or his narrators, allow the female characters thoughts, feelings and passions which are often ignored or unacknowledged by the heroes, such as Waverley.

A different interpretation of character is provided by Merryn Williams. [6] Recognising the passivity of the hero, she argues that Scott's women were thoroughly acceptable to nineteenth-century readers. They are – usually – morally stronger than men, but they do not defy them, and their self-sacrifice "to even the appearance of duty" has no limits. Thus, Flora will defy Waverley but not Fergus to any significant extent, and has some room to manoeuvre, even though limited, only after the latter's death.

Yet another view considers Flora to be the woman representing the past, while Rose symbolises a modern rational Scotland in the post-Union settlement. [7]


The opening five chapters of Waverley are often thought to be dour and uninteresting, an impression in part due to Scott's own comments on them at the end of chapter five. However, John Buchan thought the novel a "riot of fun and eccentricity", [8] seemingly a minority opinion. Scott does, however, attempt to be comic, or at least to follow the conventions of the picaresque novel. The comments on the relay of information via Dyers Weekly Letter, the self-explanatory name of the lawyer, Clippurse, Sir Everard's desire and courting of the youngest sister, Lady Emily, all point in this direction. [9] [10]

Scott uses a common humorous reference to the Old Testament story that David and supporting malcontents took refuge from Saul in a cave near the town of Adullam. When the Jacobite army marches south through the North of England, they are greeted with distrust rather than the anticipated support from English Jacobites or Tories. Eventually a few diehards or desperate individuals do join them, and the Baron of Bradwardine welcomes these recruits while remarking that they closely resemble David's followers at the Cave of Adullam; " videlicet , every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, which the vulgate renders bitter of soul; and doubtless" he said "they will prove mighty men of their hands, and there is much need that they should, for I have seen many a sour look cast upon us." [11]

Fear of civil war

The division in the Waverley family had been caused by the English Civil War of the mid-seventeenth century. Fear of civil war is ever-present in Waverley not just as subject matter or historical reality, but a primal fear as deep in Scott as in Shakespeare as manifested by various allusions throughout the novel and by direct references to Henry V and Henry VI in chapter 71. [9] [10] [12]


As Scott describes him, Edward Waverley is like Don Quixote in his manner of educating himself by much reading, but as "an unstructured education", and as Scott says in the novel "consisting of much curious, though ill-arranged and miscellaneous information." [13] Critics of Scott's novels did not see the influence of Cervantes in the same way as Scott describes it. [13] Scott further clarifies the degree of this similarity to Quixote in the novel, in his instructions to his readers that:

From the minuteness with which I have traced Waverley's pursuits, and the bias which they unavoidably communicated to his imagination, the reader may perhaps anticipate, in the following tale, an imitation of Cervantes. But he will do my prudence injustice in the supposition. My intention is not to follow the steps of that inimitable author, in describing such total perversion of intellect as misconstrues the objects actually presented to the senses, but that more common aberration from sound judgment, which apprehends occurrences indeed in their reality, but communicates to them a tincture of its own romantic tone and colouring.


19th century

Upon publication, Waverley had an astonishing success. Almost all of the reviewers of Waverley were favourable, praising the truth to nature of the characters (both major and minor) and manners. [14] Adverse criticisms were more diverse. The Anti-Jacobin Review and The Critical Review considered the work too Scottish, and the latter (assuming Scott's authorship) thought it odd for an established poet to become a 'scribbler' while The New Annual Register found it less interesting than might have been expected from his hand. The British Critic detected a tendency to caricature and broad farce. The Scourge thought the novel lacked pathos and sublimity. In The Quarterly Review John Wilson Croker, writing anonymously like all the reviewers, compared it to Dutch paintings, congenial rather than exalted, and advised the author to stick to history, while The Scourge considered that Scott did not take readers beyond their usual susceptibilities. Francis Jeffrey in The Edinburgh Review found the work hastily and often indifferently written and judged those passages where the author addresses the reader directly flippant and unworthy. Waverley was published anonymously, but half of the reviews ascribed it with varying degrees of certainty to Scott. Many readers too recognized his hand. Contemporary author Jane Austen wrote: "Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones. It is not fair. He has Fame and Profit enough as a Poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people's mouths. I do not like him, and do not mean to like Waverley if I can help it but fear I must". [15]

In Eckermann's Conversations with Goethe , Goethe lauded Waverley as "the best novel by Sir Walter Scott," and he asserted that Scott "has never written anything to surpass, or even equal, that first published novel." He regarded Scott as a genius and as one of the greatest writers of English of his time, along with Lord Byron and Thomas Moore. Discussing Scott's talent as a writer, Goethe stated, "You will find everywhere in Walter Scott a remarkable security and thoroughness in his delineation, which proceeds from his comprehensive knowledge of the real world, obtained by lifelong studies and observations, and a daily discussion of the most important relations." [16]

In 1815, Scott was given the honour of dining with George, Prince Regent, who wanted to meet "the author of Waverley". It is thought that at this meeting Scott persuaded George that as a Stuart prince he could claim to be a Jacobite Highland Chieftain, a claim that would be dramatised when George became King and visited Scotland. [17]

20th century

E. M. Forster is renowned as one of Scott's fiercest and unkindest critics. [18] His critique has received fierce opposition from Scott scholars, who believe his attack is a symptom of his ignorance, perhaps of literature, but more certainly of all things Scottish. This hostility reaches academic circles, as is made evident by Allan Massie's lecture The Appeal of Scott to the Practising Novel, the inaugural lecture at the 1991 Scott conference. Defence of Scott subsumes a defence of a national culture against the attacks of Englishness. Others have, however, suggested that this misrepresents Forster's case. [9] [10]

Georg Lukács re-established Scott as a serious novelist. [19] Lukács is most adamant in his belief that Waverley is the first major historical novel of modern times. This is clear from the distinction he draws between the eighteenth-century novel of manners, where social realities are described with little attention to diachronic change, and the eruption of history in the lives of communities, as occurs in historical novels. Furthermore, that Waverley marks an important watershed is firmly stated in Lukács' opening sentence, that "The historical novel arose at the beginning of the nineteenth century at about the time of Napoleon's collapse."



Related Research Articles

Battle of Prestonpans battle

The Battle of Prestonpans, also known as the Battle of Gladsmuir, was fought on 21 September 1745, near Prestonpans, in East Lothian; it was the first significant engagement of the Jacobite rising of 1745, which is generally viewed as a subsidiary conflict of the War of the Austrian Succession.

Rob Roy (1817) is a historical novel by Walter Scott. It is considered one of the Waverley novels, as the author identified himself on the title page as "by the author of Waverley".

<i>The Antiquary</i> novel by Walter Scott

The Antiquary (1816) is a novel by Sir Walter Scott about several characters including an antiquary: an amateur historian, archaeologist and collector of items of dubious antiquity. He is the eponymous character and for all practical purposes the hero, though the characters of Lovel and Isabella Wardour provide the conventional love interest. The Antiquary was Scott's own favourite of his novels, and is one of his most critically well-regarded works; H. J. C. Grierson, for example, wrote that "Not many, apart from Shakespeare, could write scenes in which truth and poetry, realism and romance, are more wonderfully presented."

A Legend of Montrose is an historical novel by Sir Walter Scott, set in Scotland in the 1640s during the English Civil War. It forms, along with The Bride of Lammermoor, the 3rd series of Scott's Tales of My Landlord. The two novels were published together in 1819.

William Henry Murray British actor

William Henry Wood Murray (1790-1852) a Scottish actor, manager and theatre owner in Edinburgh, was a friend of Walter Scott particularly associated with dramatisations of Scott's Waverley Novels.

<i>Redgauntlet</i> novel by Walter Scott

Redgauntlet (1824) is a historical novel by Sir Walter Scott, set primarily in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in 1765, and described by Magnus Magnusson as "in a sense, the most autobiographical of Scott's novels." It describes the beginnings of a fictional third Jacobite Rebellion, and includes "Wandering Willie's Tale", a famous short story which frequently appears in anthologies.

<i>The Black Dwarf</i> (novel) novel by Walter Scott

Walter Scott's novel The Black Dwarf was part of his Tales of My Landlord, 1st series, published along with Old Mortality on 2 December 1816 by William Blackwood, Edinburgh, and John Murray, London. Originally the four volumes of the series were to tell separate stories, but Old Mortality came to occupy three of them.

Jonathan Oldbuck

Jonathan Oldbuck is the leading character in Sir Walter Scott's 1816 novel The Antiquary. In accordance with Scottish custom he is often addressed by the name of his house, Monkbarns. He is devoted to the study and collection of old coins, books and archaeological relics, and has a marked tendency to misogyny due to disappointment in an early love affair. His characteristics have been traced back to several men known to Scott, and to the author himself, an enthusiastic antiquary. Many critics have considered him one of Scott's finest creations.

Bradwardine can refer to the following:

James Gardiner (British Army officer) British Army officer

Colonel James Gardiner was a Scottish soldier who fought in the British Army, including during the 1745 Jacobite rising.

<i>Woodstock</i> (novel) novel by Walter Scott

Woodstock, or The Cavalier. A Tale of the Year Sixteen Hundred and Fifty-one (1826) is a historical novel by Walter Scott. Set just after the English Civil War, it was inspired by the legend of the Good Devil of Woodstock, which in 1649 supposedly tormented parliamentary commissioners who had taken possession of a royal residence at Woodstock, Oxfordshire. The story deals with the escape of Charles II in 1652, during the Commonwealth, and his final triumphant entry into London on 29 May 1660.

<i>The Monastery</i> novel by Walter Scott

The Monastery: a Romance (1820) is a historical novel by Sir Walter Scott. Along with The Abbot, it is one of Scott's Tales from Benedictine Sources and is set in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Elizabethan period.

<i>Castle Dangerous</i> novel by Walter Scott

Castle Dangerous (1831) was the last of Walter Scott's novels published in his lifetime. It is part of Tales of My Landlord, 4th series.

Grandtully village in Perth and Kinross, Scotland, UK

Grandtully is a small village in Perthshire, Scotland.

Andrew Macdonald (1757–1790), pen name Matthew Bramble, was a Scottish clergyman, poet and playwright.

Bradwardine, Manitoba Place in Manitoba, Canada

Bradwardine is a historical location northeast of Virden in the Rural Municipality of Daly.

Jamie Fleeman jester in Scotland

Jamie Fleeman or Fleeming (1713–1778) was better known as "the Laird of Udny's Fool" or "the Laird of Udny's Fule" in the Scots language. Although described as a fool, he had a reputation for his clever, witty repartee and many anecdotal tales of his actions are re-capped. He was specifically mentioned in the 1845 Statistical Accounts of Scotland and characterised in novels. Fleeman is associated with the Countess of Erroll and was used by her to carry messages to Jacobite rebels. He was probably the last family jester in Scotland.

Sir Arthur Wardour

Sir Arthur Wardour of Knockwinnock Castle is a character in Walter Scott’s 1816 novel The Antiquary, a Scottish Tory baronet who is vain of his ancient family but short of money. He is a friend and neighbour of Jonathan Oldbuck, the novel’s title-character.


  1. "Definition of waverley | Dictionary.com". www.dictionary.com.
  2. "Improve Your English Pronunciation". youglish.com.
  3. "Sir Walter Scott, Scottish Novelist and Poet" (PDF). Lucidcafé Library. 17 August 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  4. Swingle, L J (1979). "The Poets, the Novelists, and the English Romantic Situation". The Wordsworth Circle. 10: 218–28.
  5. 1 2 Welsh, A. 1993. The Hero of the Waverley Novels. Princeton: Princeton University Press
  6. Williams, M. 1984. Women in the English Novel, 1800-1900. London: Macmillan
  7. "Walter Scott: Waverley". Edinburgh University Library. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  8. Buchan, J. 1933. Sir Walter Scott. London: Cassell
  9. 1 2 3 Waverley Hypertext Project
  10. 1 2 3 Curbet, Joan (1999). "Andrew MONNICKENDAM.The Waverley hypertext homepage". Reviews. Links & Letters. pp. 143–145. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  11. Waverley, chapter lvii, cite in: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Adullam"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 218.
  12. Monnickendam, Andrew (1998). A Hypertextual Approach to Walter Scott's Waverley. Univ. Autònoma de Barcelona. ISBN   978-8449011955.
  13. 1 2 Gaston, Patricia S (1991). "The Waverley Series and Don Quixote: Manuscripts Found and Lost". Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America. 11 (1): 45–59.
  14. For a full list of contemporaneous British reviews see William S. Ward, Literary Reviews in British Periodicals, 1798‒1820: A Bibliography, 2 vols (New York and London, 1972), 2.484. For a earlier annotated list see James Clarkson Corson, A Bibliography of Sir Walter Scott (Edinburgh and London, 1943), 198–99.
  15. Austen, Jane (28 September 1814). "Letter to Anna Austen from Jane Austen" . Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  16. Eckermann, Johann Peter (1901) [1836]. Conversations with Goethe . New York: M Walter Dunne.
  17. 1 2 Prebble, John (2000). The King's Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, August 1822 'One and Twenty Daft Days'. Birlinn Publishers. ISBN   1-84158-068-6.
  18. Forster, E.M. 1941. Aspects of the Novel. London: Edward Arnold
  19. Lukacs, G. 1937. The Historical Novel. Moscow.
  20. "Waverly Place", The Street Book, Henry Moscow.
  21. "The Waverly Pen by MacNiven and Cameron". Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  22. Earl Arnett; Robert J. Brugger; Edward C. Papenfuse. Maryland: A New Guide to the Old Line State. p. 425.
  23. Russell, B. 1905. On Denoting.
  24. Husband, M. F. A. (1910). Dictionary of the Characters in the Waverley Novels of Sir Walter Scott. London: George Routledge and Sons. p. 101.
  25. Billings, Robert William (1901). Baronial and ecclesiastical antiquities of Scotland. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. p. 189.

Original volumes