Scott's tour de force of family intrigue has two heroes. Francis Osbaldistone, dispatched in disgrace from London, joins his foxhunting cousins at their ancestral seat in Northumberland. His suspicions of villainous Rashleigh Osbaldistone, and the request of Diana Vernon, the cousin whom Francis loves, draw in Scott's other hero, the brave, bitter Highlander nad enigmatic outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor. Set on the eve of the Jacobite rising of 1715, Rob Roy in some ways the quintessential English-Scottish encounter, does not give up its secrets until the very last page. Few novels can match it for suspense and narrative daring, and in the swirl and colour of its characters we can agree with Hazlitt: "Sir Walter has found out (oh, rare discovery!)...that there is no romance like the romance of real life."
Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh in 1771. Educated for the law, he obtained the office of sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire in 1799 and in 1806 the office of clerk of session, a post whose duties he fulfilled for some twenty-five years. His lifelong interest in Scottish antiquity and the ballads which recorded Scottish history led him to try his hand at narrative poems of adventure and action. The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), Marmion (1808), and The Lady of the Lake (1810) made his reputation as one of the leading poets of his time. A novel, Waverley, which he had begun in 1805, was published anonymously in 1814. Subsequent novels appeared with the note "by the author of Waverley"; hence his novels often are called collectively "the Waverley novels." Some of the most famous of these are Old Mortality (1816), Rob Roy (1817), Ivanhoe (1819), Kenilworth (1821), and Quentin Durward (1823). In recognition of his literary work Scott was made a baronet in 1819. During his last years he held various official positions and published biographies, editions of Swift and Dryden, tales, lyric poetry, and various studies of history and antiquity. He died in 1832.
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