The presentation copy launching the warm friendship between two great historicial novelists of the early nineteenth century.
A fine presentation copy of the author's first novel (the "Scots Castle Rackrent"), which Scott was inspired to complete only though his reading of Maria Edgeworth's own historical fiction
The first and second editions of Waverley (of 1,000 and 2,000 copies respectively, published in July and September 1814) quickly sold out, and this third edition was issued on 1 November in London (see Todd and Bowden). It appears from the Memoirs that although Scott asked for one of the earlier editions to be sent to Maria Edgeworth this was not possible since the run was sold out. Having received this presentation copy of the third edition, she wrote enthusiastically to Scott on 23 October, the same day that the novel had been read aloud to the assembled family at Edgeworthstown: thus began a very warm correspondence and friendship between the two novelists (see R.F. Butler, "Maria Edgeworth and Sir Walter Scott Unpublished Letters, 1823", in The Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 9, No. 33, February 1958, pp. 23-40).
Scott had probably begun Waverley in 1808, continuing it in 1810 before setting it aside. It was only with the appearance of Maria Edgeworth's The Absentee (see lot 103) that he was prompted to unearth his incomplete manuscript, and complete it in 1813-14. Thus Maria Edgeworth helped to launch the historical novel across Europe. Scott, who wrote that he hoped "in some distant degree to emulate the admirable Irish portraits of Miss Edgeworth", had been an early admirer of his fellow writer. He was "by far the most important reader of her work...What she demonstrated was a means of relating one cultural tradition to another, whether across a long passage of time or in a tense contemporary setting (the stories of émigrés, for instance). Scott's public acknowledgement of the debt came in the collected edition of his works (1829–33)..." (David Hewitt, Oxford DNB) It is thought that Jeanie Deans, in Scott's Heart of Midlothian, may have been modelled on Maria Edgeworth.
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