Thursday, August 30, 2012

Belated Happy Birthday, Walter Scott

I missed Walter Scott's birthday - August 15th, for those of you who want to send a card next year. If this had been 1871 instead of 2012, I probably wouldn't have made that mistake.

That year, Scott's centenary was celebrated across the globe, as I found out when I came across a long account of the festivities in the New York Tribune. The attention given to Scott in an American newspaper almost forty years after his death, and the praise heaped upon him, is remarkable, taking up some of the front page and an entire internal page:
"Everybody who reads at all has read something from the pen of Scott" - New York Tribune August 10th 1871
In 1871, at least, Scott's works could still be referred to as "among the things best known to the human race." Harper's New Monthly Magazine also ran an article on the celebrations in Edinburgh in February 1872 - available here. I'll try and dig up some more examples - I bet they're out there.

But the Tribune's account of Scott's life, death and work is not only interesting as a time-capsule of Scott's reputation at a certain moment - it's useful too. As part of their commemoration, they included a handy and quite thorough bibliography of Scott's writings. I'll excerpt the poetry and novel lists here, because they're still helpful (particularly the dates of publication, assuming they're accurate).


Postscript: I'd go out on a limb and venture that the author of this Tribune profile was William Winter, because of the similarities it shares with this account of Scott in Winter's Gray Days and Gold.

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