Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’: A Literary Pivot Point Between Maria Edgeworth and George Eliot

Ryan Twomey

Abstract


The publication of Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley, or ‘tis sixty years since’ in 1814 marked a revolutionary change in the production of literature and set in motion Scott’s dominance as a writer of prose fiction. The influence of ‘Waverley’ on a generation of writers was in part a reaction to the voracious appetite Scott’s historical novel awoke in the reading public. Scott’s ‘Waverley’ can also be viewed as a literary pivot point between Maria Edgeworth and George Eliot. This article examines the literary progression identifiable between the three authors while illuminating the formative role of Edgeworth and Eliot’s juvenilia. It is argued that an identifiable history of influence can be traced from Edgeworth, to Scott, to Eliot, with youthful writing playing a seminal role in the literary development of the three authors.

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