For the first time since they were sold more than 170 years ago, two manuscripts by Sir Walter Scott have been brought together in the National Library of Scotland, as a result of one of them having travelled this month from Russia. Scott (1772-1832), one of the best-selling writers of his day, gave away his hand-written copies of The Talisman and The Betrothed in 1831. The Talisman was bought by a Russian count in 1868, and eventually transferred to the State Historical Museum in Moscow's Red Square in the 1930s.
On temporary deposit in Scotland's largest library - which holds the pre-eminent collection of Scott's manuscripts, papers and correspondence - the manuscript is here to help Professor David Hewitt and his team who are working on The Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, 17 volumes of which have been published by Edinburgh University Press in the past 10 years. The original of The Talisman is needed, says Professor Hewitt, 'to provide the first reliable text of Scott's fiction' - some of which was misunderstood by printers working quickly and often in difficult circumstances.
Telling of the adventures of a Scottish knight in the Crusader army led by Richard I of England, The Talisman was published with The Betrothed in 1825 as Tales of the Crusaders.
The manuscript is pictured with Dr Andrei Ianovski (left), who accompanied it to Scotland, and Dr Iain G Brown, the Library's Scott Collection specialist.
29 May 2003