Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) was a noted Scottish novelist and poet from Edinburgh with family connections to the Borders where, in later life, he built his home at Abbotsford near Melrose. His influence is most strongly felt in the development of the historical novel. Amongst others, Goethe and Tolstoy were great admirers of his.
Scott visited Shetland in the summer of 1814. He accompanied his friend Robert Stevenson, the famous lighthouse architect and a Commissioner of Northern Lights on an inspection tour all around the Scottish coasts and isles.
The most well known aspect of Scott's trip to Shetland concerns his visit to the Stewart Mansion at Jarlshof. The building and landscape served to inspire, later being used as a kind of model scene for some parts of Scott's novel The Pirate (1822). Indeed, the name Jarlshof itself was coined by Scott. Most of the rest of this tour is long forgotten, although Scott drew a vivid account of Shetland in the early 19th century.
His account forms a major part of his notes which were later published under the title Northern Lights or a voyage in the Lighthouse Yacht to Nova Zembla and the Lord knows where in the summer of 1814 / Sir Walter Scott by his son in law William F Laughlan (reprinted 1982).
Robert Stevenson, the Surveyor-Viceroy over the Commissioners as he was addressed by Scott, did such a tour once a year. He used to invite friends and experts to the tour, most probably for his private entertainment but also to discuss the various problems when he was searching for sites for new lighthouses. The party of 1814 included the following men: Robert Hamilton, Adam Duff, and William Erskine - the Sheriffs Lanarkshire, Orkney & Zetland, and Forfarshire all the three of them Commissioners of Northern Lights. Then there were non-commissioners: Mr. David Majoribanks, Provost of Edinburgh, Rev. Mr. John Turnbull, minister of Tingwall, and Walter Scott himself. For their safety the party was joined by a band of ten extra crew under the command of a certain Mr. Wilson and the lighthouse yacht itself was fitted with six guns. In 1814 Britain was at war with the United States of America and "the Admiral has sent a sloop of war to cruize in the dangerous points of our tour to sweep the sea of Yankee privateers" as Scott gladly notes.
- Walter Scott article at Wikipedia
- Walter Scott Digital Archive at the University of Edinburgh
- The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club
- Sir Walter Scott, biography by Richard H. Hutton, 1878, from Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Walter Scott at Internet Archive (scanned books, original editions, colour illustrated)