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Queen Victoria's Palace
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SIR WALTER SCOTT (1771-1832)

Novels and romances of the author of Waverley ; v. V Peveril of the Peak.


22.7 x 3.0 x 14.3 cm (book measurement (inventory)) | RCIN 1050537

Despite the moderate sales of the third series of Tales of my Landlord, in late 1819, Sir Walter Scott began making increasingly expensive purchases of antiquities and started a series of land improvements and enlargements of his estate Abbotsford. To raise the money for such endeavours, he sold the copyright for his earlier works to his publisher Archibald Constable for £12,000. This ill-advised decision ended the royalties Scott received from the sales of his novels and he was soon forced to write endlessly to cover his increasing debts. Over the next six years, Scott wrote fourteen novels that the author Thomas Carlyle later belittled as ‘impromptu novels to buy farms’.
Nevertheless, Scott had regained his health from the difficult years of 1817 and 1818 and took to his new books with a newfound confidence. Unlike his earlier works, these new novels largely focused on events in English rather than Scottish history. 

Set in the Peak District and London during the 1678 ‘Popish Plot’, Titus Oates’s conspiracy of a Roman Catholic plot to assassinate Charles II, Scott’s 1823 novel, Peveril of the Peak centres on the romance between Julian Peveril and Alice Bridgenorth and the intrigues of the Stuart court. This was the last book read by Queen Victoria to the Prince Consort during his final illness in December 1861. A bookmark of black-edged note paper was inserted by the Queen at the point (the beginning of Chapter V) they reached three days before his death on 14 December. Victoria later inscribed the flyleaf of that volume: "This book was / read up to the mark / on Page 81 to my / beloved Husband / during his fatal / illness & within 3 / days of its terrible / termination Dec: 14 / 1861 / VR". During the Festival of Britain in 1951, the book was displayed as part of an exhibition arranged by the National Book League and held at the Victoria & Albert Museum (exhibit no. 488).

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