Arts & Culture

Fact and Fiction: An Author’s Workspace

KH | ET Student

Sir Walter Scott is credited as the father of historical fiction. An eccentric antiquarian and beloved Scottish author, Scott’s unique life fueled his ability to combine historical happenings with creative narrative. His personality was reflected visually in the home wherein he composed some of his popular works of literature, such as the Waverly novels (1814-1816), and The Heart of the Midlothian (1818).

Our group’s study of the author was enriched by opportunities to explore the setting of The Heart of the Midlothian, a ten-minute walk from our residence in Edinburgh, and to visit  Abbotsford, the author’s farm-turned-mansion on the River Tweed.

Scott’s Abbotsford home is an inspiring and stimulating place, which cultivated his creativity. Scott acquired Abbotsford in 1812 and personally designed its transformation, carving history into every aspect of the residence., He decorated the walls with a collection of historically significant artifacts. His home has a 16th-century design with Gothic aspects and pieces from Melrose Abbey.

Kelly Blog

Abbotsford, from the entrance of the front lawn | Photo by Kellie Hedberg

Composing literary works for audiences to enjoy is an art, one wherein Sir Walter Scott was revolutionary. His books were written in an entirely new style, historical fiction, which the world had not encountered before, yet has lasted even until today. Scott’s home was a reflection of his artistic ability to combine seemingly incompatible concepts into one cohesive unit. These artistic choices were unheard of, and have influenced writers and artists which followed Scott’s amazing legacy.

Scott’s masterful pieces of historical fiction were composed in this atmosphere: with history covering the walls, the Tweed River behind the home and his creative genius all contributing to the works and genre we know today. It was while walking the halls of Scott’s home that I began to understand how important an author’s workspace is. While looking at the walls and tables, filled with pieces of the past, I felt the creativity of Scott nestled in between the history. The two combined were captivating, just as within his literary works.


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