Scott-land. The Man Who Invented a Nation.

By Stuart Kelly

Printed: 2010

Publisher: Polygon. Edinburgh

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 15 × 23 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 15 x 23 x 4

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In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

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His name and image are everywhere – from Bank of Scotland fivers to the bizarre monument in Edinburgh’s city centre. Scott-land presumes that the reader will have only a hazy awareness of Sir Walter Scott, and, although Stuart Kelly will offer insights into Scott’s works and biography, this is emphatically not a conventional literary biography, nor is it a critical study. Partly a surreptitious autobiography – Stuart Kelly was born near Abbotsford – his examination of Scott’s legacy and character come to change his own thoughts on writing, reviewing, being Scottish, and being human.

Review: Have never read a book dealing with a different era so densely packed with cultural references from that time. The learning and literary/historical knowledge of the author is absolutely incredible. Knowledge and learning that he brings together brilliantly in his writing. And although the book hasn’t been regarded as so I believe it to be ground-breaking, for the very fact that it shows history coming out of culture. I have heard it said lately that politics is downstream from culture. Culture predominates politics. That being so, the same is bound to be true of History. Culture is the animating order of a given time and it is this animating order that gives birth to History. It is only when you’re provided a rich enough tapestry of an aeonic culture that you can start to get a sense of that animating order throughout time. A lifetime of passion and learning condensed most brilliantly, very grateful to have come across this book 🙂


Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet FRSE FSAScot (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832), was a Scottish historian, novelist, poet, and playwright. Many of his works remain classics of European and Scottish literature, notably the novels Ivanhoe (1819), Rob Roy (1817), Waverley (1814), Old Mortality (1816), The Heart of Mid-Lothian (1818), and The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), along with the narrative poems Marmion (1808) and The Lady of the Lake (1810). He had a major impact on European and American literature.

As an advocate, judge, and legal administrator by profession, he combined writing and editing with his daily work as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire. He was prominent in Edinburgh’s Tory establishment, active in the Highland Society, long time a president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1820–1832), and a vice president of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1827–1829). His knowledge of history and literary facility equipped him to establish the historical novel genre as an exemplar of European Romanticism. He became a baronet of Abbotsford in the County of Roxburgh, Scotland, on 22 April 1820; the title became extinct on his son’s death in 1847.

Stuart Kelly is a Scottish critic and author. He is the literary editor of The Scotsman. His works include The Book Of Lost Books: An Incomplete Guide To All The Books You’ll Never Read (2005), Scott-Land: The Man Who Invented A Nation (2010) (which was longlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction) and The Minister and the Murderer (2018). Kelly writes for The Scotsman, Scotland On Sunday, The Guardian and The Times. In 2013 Kelly was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. In 2016/17 Kelly was president of The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club.

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