SIR WALTER SCOTT – WAVERLEY NOVELS
100 YEARS AND A BIT MORE!
The history of the Waverley Novels according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
“The Waverley Novels
The Waverley Novels, a series of more than two dozen historical novels published by Sir Walter Scott between 1814 and 1832. Although the novels were extremely popular and strongly promoted at the time, he did not publicly reveal his authorship of them until 1827. Notable works in the series include Waverley (1814), Guy Mannering (1815), Rob Roy (1817), The Heart of Midlothian (1818), Ivanhoe (1819), Kenilworth (1821), Quentin Durward (1823), and Redgauntlet (1824). Some of the novels were originally published in a four-part series titled Tales of My Landlord. All the stories were published together in a 48-volume series called Waverley Novels (1829–33), containing Scott’s prefaces and final revisions but completed after his death. The series influenced generations of writers and earned Scott his reputation as the founder of the historical novel genre.
Scott’s early Waverley books deal with several different phases of Scottish history and were noted for their characterizations of ordinary people and their use of regional Scottish dialect. These novels often concern the clash between heroic traditions of the past and practical visions of the future. Waverley, for example, treats the tensions between the Jacobites and the Hanoverians in the mid-18th century, while The Heart of Midlothian addresses the social conflict following the Porteous Riots of 1736 over the execution of a smuggler. Scott set his other novels in historical periods dating to the Middle Ages in locales such as England, France, Palestine, and the Orkney Islands.
Citation Information – Article Title: The Waverley Novels. Website Name: Encycolpaedia Britannica. This article was most recently revised and updated by Kathleen Kuiper, Senior Editor.”
Our collection of Waverley Novels, published in Edinburgh in1898, must have been witness to many conversations and changes in fashions and home decor. This historical item came to Grande Daze when we were clearing away after the last Vide Grenier of 2019. The books were in a very dusty and misshapen old cardboard fruit box, along with other boxes of bric-a-brac, and given to us by a couple who were visiting the sale. Everything was packed into the van and on arrival at Grande Daze all of the boxes were put into storage. The box of books was overlooked for the last sale and Christmas sale of 2019 in the Salle de Fete at La Bigottiere. It wasn’t until the spring of 2021 that we began to take stock of all books and bric-a-brac. The pandemic had struck. We had to find items suitable for selling online and make room to store all of the donations that were piling up.
After a couple of weeks of moving boxes and sorting through items we uncovered the dusty box and, with some caution, opened it. What a surprise we had! The contents of the box were relatively clean and in remarkably good condition. 45 matching books, 3 short of the full set, were packed neatly with their spines showing. With care we removed a couple of volumes and opened them to ascertain publish place and date. To our delight and amazement we realised that the novels were 122 years old. We made the decision to delicately dust off each volume. The collection was placed on the library shelves and photographed before being individually wrapped in acid free tissue and a glassine sheet placed inside each frontispiece. We stored the volumes in a plastic carton while we did some research
Information from several antiquarian booksellers revealed that the novels were once in fashion by collectors but their 20th Century heyday was past. We learned from bookbinders that the rough and uneven pages of the books was consistent with Victorian printing methods. The pages are printed on a long strip like wall paper. Once all the pages are printed the strip is folded like a concertina and the spine is glued and stitched and the cover fastened in place. After this all the pages are then split by hand which gives the edges a torn and uneven finish. So, not only is this volume interesting for the stories, but also for the history of the printing industry.
The advice of everyone of the Antiquarian Booksellers was to keep the books as they had value and their time would return, alternatively, we could sell them for between €50 to €100 or split the set and charge €8 to €10 per volume.
We felt that the books should remain as a set and tried to sell it during the Autumn of 2020 without success. So, we decided to store this precious donation. Then, a re-think because such items shouldn’t be left in a cupboard and forgotten. We decided to try again and the novels were advertised for €30. We sold the books in the spring of 2021 to a couple who, like us, feel that the volumes deserve our respect for their longevity, historical content and the wonderful story telling of Sir Walter Scott. The purchasers had not only adopted one of Grande Daze rescue dogs but they had ‘rescued’ a piece of history and were very generous in giving a cash donation in excess of the price. We’re very grateful to all those involved in this donation.
Thoughts on some of the donated items we have received over the years – ironically, kind, generous and discerning people discard lovely possessions they have no use for and having given away items these are then ‘rescued’, purchased by others who see value in them. Many of our rescued animals come from loving homes that are experiencing difficult circumstances and they are reluctantly given into the charge of Grande Daze. In turn these sad cases then find a good home. Of course, other rescues are tragic and traumatic but they, also, get their new homes. Just as dusty old books survive for over a century.