Sir Walter Scott as romance scholar

Sir Walter Scott as romance scholar

Walter Scott

1804

Scotland

printed book with manuscript letter

Walter Scott (1771–1832) was a major figure in the nineteenth-century surge of interest in medieval culture, both through novels such as Ivanhoe (1820), and through his championing of past—occasionally invented—customs of festivity, storytelling and balladry. Here we see Scott in another guise: editor of the medieval romance Sir Tristrem, from the famous Auchinleck Manuscript now in the National Library of Scotland. Scott sent this copy to the scholar and collector Francis Douce with a letter of 7 May 1804, preserved with the book. In it, Scott objects to the bowdlerizing of older texts, claiming that his edition is a ‘ “Tristan entier” […] thrown off without a castration’.

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