Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, August 15, 1771. His father was a farmer and his mother, Anne Rutherford, was the daughter of Dr. John Rutherford, who was one of the founders of the medical school of Edinburgh. Mrs. Scott was fond of poetry and anecdotes and it was from her that Walter received inspiration.
Walter was one of ten children. The other children's only claim to fame was that they had, "good health and untamable spirits." In contrast, Walter was afflicted at twenty-one months with something which a biographer describes as, "a paralytic affection, superinduced, or at least aggravated by scrofulous habit of body." It is, sufficient to say that it made him lame and doubtless pushed him into more academic pursuits.
He spent much time with his grandparents, but it was "Aunt Jenny" who took a special interest in him and influenced him to write. His visits to an uncle, Dr. Rutherford, professor of botany at the University of Edinburgh, brought him into contact with scholarly people.
His parents were very religious and imposed strict piety upon all their children. Walter was never very deeply affected religiously, however. His works, which contain much about the church, seek neither to elevate nor to censure it, but rather to depict it, for it was history and not philosophy that interested him most.
His first novel, Waverly, was published anonymously. Although Scott probably never intended that "Laurence Templeton" should be taken as a real person, he was attempting to remain in anonymity by the use of the name. His publishers persuaded him to allow further novels to be designated as "by the author of Waverly," and for this reason some of his novels were called the "Waverly Novels." Although he published biographies of Swift and Dryden and some history, as well as poems and novels, his chief claim to distinction is his contribution to Romanticism and the historical novel.
He suffered from many physical ailments, one particularly serious one in adolescence, which made him, in his own words, "a glutton of books." Scott became seriously ill before Ivanhoe was finished and dictated much of it from his sickbed.
His popularity, both socially and as a writer, was almost unparalleled. He was married in 1797 to Margaret Charlotte Carpenter, who bore him three sons and two daughters. Scott received his title and baronetcy from King George IV in the spring of 1820. He died, Sir Walter Scott, in 1832.