Sir Walter Scott's desk up 75% on estimate in Edinburgh sale



2015-06-26 13:54:01

Sir Walter Scott's desk up 75% on estimate in Edinburgh sale

Sir Walter Scott rediscovered the opening to his first novel, Waverley, in the desk

Paul Fraser Collectibles,Thursday 11September 2014

A writing desk belonging to Sir Walter Scott realised 5,250 ($8,515) at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on September 10.

The lot achieved an increase of 75% on a 3,000 ($4,869) high estimate.

Scott writing desk Sir Walter Scott is one of Scotland's greatest literary figures

It's a hugely significant piece of Scottish literary history as, tucked in its drawers, Scott rediscovered his previously discarded opening to Waverley (1814) - his first novel.

In the preface to a later edition he wrote: "This portion of the manuscript was laid aside in the drawers of the old writing-desk, which on my first coming to Abbotsford, in 1811, was placed in a lumber garret, and entirely forgotten....

"I happened to want some fishing-tackle for the use of a guest, when it occurred to me to search the old writing-desk already mentioned, in which I used to keep articles of that nature.

"I got access to it with some difficulty; and in looking for lines and flies the long-lost manuscript presented itself. I immediately set to work to complete it according to my original purpose."

The book, which tells the story of a Jacobite soldier, proved a huge success on its publication and sold out its first edition almost immediately.

Simon Vickers, Lyon & Turnbull's head of books and manuscripts, told Scottish broadcaster STV Edinburgh prior to the sale: "Sir Walter Scott gave [the writing desk] to his steward William Laidlaw and it is being sold by his descendants.

"It is mahogany and is quite well worn at the bottom so might have been chewed by Sir Walter Scott's dog at some stage."

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