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Scott was born on August 15, 1771, in Edinburgh as the son of a solicitor Walter Scott and Anne, a daughter of professor of medicine. An early illness left him lame in the right leg, but he grew up to be a man over six feet and great physical endurance. Scott's interest in the old Border tales and ballads had early been awakened, and he devoted much of his leisure to the exploration of the Border country. He attended Edinburgh High School and studied at Edinburgh University arts and law. Scott was apprenticed to his father in 1786 and in 1792 he was called to the bar. In 1799 he was appointed sheriff depute of the county of Selkirk. In 1797 Scott married Margaret Charlotte Charpenter. They had five children.
In 1802-03 Scott's first major work, Minstrelsy Of The Scottish Border appeared. As a poet Scott rose into fame with the publication of The Lay Of The Last Minstrel (1805) about an old border country legend. It became a huge success and made him the most popular author of the day. It was followed by Marmion (1808), a historical romance in tetrameter. The Lady In The Lake appeared in 1810 and Rokeby in 1813. Scott's last major poem, The Lord Of The Isles, was published in 1815.
In 1806 Scott became clerk to the Court of Session in Edinburgh. To increase his income he started a printing and publishing business with his friend James Ballantyne. The enterprise crashed and Scott accepted all debts and tried to pay them off with his writings.
In the 1810s Scott published several novels. From this period date such works as Waverley (1814), dealing with the rebellion of 1745, which attempted to restore a Scottish family to the British throne. Scott continued with Guy Mannering (1815) and Tales Of My Landlord (1816). Rob Roy (1817) a portrait of one of Scotland's greatest heroes, sold out its edition of 10 000 copies in two weeks. The Heart of Midlothianappeared in 1818 followed by The Bride Of Lammermoor (1819) and A Legend Of Montrose (1819). Ivanhoe (1819) set in the reign of Richard I is perhaps the best known of Scott's novels today. In the 1820s appeared Kenilworth (1821), The Fortunes Of Nigel (1822), Peveril Of The Peak (1823), Quentin Durward (1823), The Talisman (1825), Woodstock (1826), The Surgeon's Daughter (1827), and Anne Of Geierstein (1829).
In 1820 Scott was created a baronet. A few years later he founded the Bannatyne Club, which published old Scottish documents. Scott visited France in 1826 to collect material for his Life Of Napoleon, which was published in 9 volumes in 1827. His wife, Lady Scott, died in 1826, and the author himself had a stroke in 1830. Next year Scott sailed to Italy. After his return to England in 1832, he died on September 21. Scott was buried beside his ancestors in Dryburgh Abbey.
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