Well-known today for his narrative poems "Lay of the Last Minstrel" and "Lady of the Lake" and his Waverly novels (especially Ivanhoe, Kenilworth, and Quentin Durward, Sir Walter Scott also wrote a history of Scotland for his six-year-old grandson John Hugh Lockhart.
Partly inspired by the success of John Wilson Croker's Stories for Children Selected from the History of England, he began writing these "Tales of a Grandfather" in 1827 and published the books between 1828 and 1830.
The First Series comprised the period between the reign of Macbeth (1033) and the Union of the Crowns (1603) and it was published in December 1827, with the intention of introducing it to the Christmas market. The sales were so high that before the end of the month, Cadell had already ordered a revised and enlarged edition.
In May 1828, Scott decided to write a Second Series of Tales. He ended the series on the Union of England and Scotland (1707), which was completed in September 1828 and published two months later. The Third Series, which lead up to the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden (1746), came out in December 1829.
(Scott wrote a fourth series, on French history, and began a fifth, which he suspended upon hearing about the death of John Hugh on December 15th, 1831. He never revisited this work, and it was never published until 1996.)
In the 19th century, the study of Scottish history focused mainly on cultural traditions and therefore, in Scott’s books, while the timeline of events is accurate, many anecdotes are either folk stories or inventions.
It's had a long republishing history. My personal copy was published almost 100 years later, in 1925, and in 2001, Cumberland House published it as a 4-volume set including the following titles:
- From Bannockburn to Flodden
recounts the medieval history of his native land. In these stories he tells of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and other leaders of the period, as well as the foundations of the Stewart monarchy.
- From Gileskirk to Greyfriars
recounts the momentous events that took place during the Reformation. With the colorful figures of John Knox, George Buchanan, and Mary Queen of Scots on center stage, here Scott delineates the distinctions between Scottish history and that of all other nations.
- From Glencoe to Stirling
recounts the momentous events that took place between the time of the Reformation and the Jacobite rising. With an emphasis on the great chivalric age of that period, these chapters demonstrate the power of the nation to shape its own destiny and to steer toward the realization of Scotland's freedom.
- From Montrose to Culloden
recounts the heroic saga of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Risings of the eighteenth century. With an emphasis on romantic spirit of that age, these chapters demonstrate the power of the nation to shape its own destiny and to steer toward the realization of Scotland's national legacy.
Review by Eli Evans
Formerly home educated and now father of five, Eli loves discovering amazing books, new and old, and is an artistic curator at heart. The owner and manager of Exodus since 1998, his focus is on offering thoughtful and well-written books that inspire the imagination and promote creativity and diligence while living for God. Read more of his reviews here
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