Centre for the History of the Book

Walter Scott: Waverley

After nearly ten years spent in preparation, Peter Garside's new scholarly edition of Walter Scott's Waverley; or 'tis Sixty Years Since (1814) was published by Edinburgh University Press in November 2007.

Waverley cover

Like its final chapter, ‘A Postscript, which should have been a Preface', it appears as one of the last in the new Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, so that the full weight of experience gained from editing Scott's fiction can be brought to understanding his most influential novel, the one which gave its name to the Waverley Novels. The text, based on the first edition with detailed attention to the author's original manuscript, is significantly different from its predecessors, offering in all some 1600 emendations.

An extensive ‘Essay on the Test' deals among other things with issues surrounding the genesis of this novel, and more particularly the questions involved in dating its earliest chapters. These are complex and have led to a variety of interpretations. As a whole the editor endorses the view that the novel was begun in 1808 (not in 1805 as traditional accounts have argued), continued in 1810, and completed in 1813-14. Within this overall pattern new information and insights are offered about Scott's activity and input at such points of engagement.

The main events in Waverley take place at the time of the Jacobite rising of 1745-46, with its hero's private adventures interconnecting at various points with this last main effort to restore the Stuart family as monarchs. Through Waverley 's upbringing at Waverley-Honour, and his first-hand experiences of two main motor forces of Jacobite opposition in Scotland , the novel also offers a wider overview of Jacobitism as a cultural and historical phenomenon. The new edition's extensive annotation provides an array of new information concerning issues such as Scott's sources and the topographical and chronological organisation of the novel.

With the publication of this volume and Peveril of the Peak (1822), edited by Alison Lumsden, the Edinburgh Edition has produced 23 out of the 28 main volumes which will be complete this major and groundbreaking new edition of the Waverley Novels. It is anticipated that the remaining five volumes will be published by 2009, completing twenty-five years of research spent preparing this edition, under its Editor-in-Chief David Hewitt.

Peter Garside is Professor of Bibliography and Textual Studies at the University of Edinburgh . There are plans for an International Conference on Textual Editing to take place at Edinburgh University in 2008, hosted by the Centre for History of the Book.

Further details are available on the Edinburgh University Press web site: