Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

I had not realised that James Watt and his son James Watt jnr were friends with possibly Scotland’s most famous writer (other than Rabbie Burns….?) Sir Walter Scott. Edinburgh’s main railway station is named Waverley after one of Scott’s novels as is the Scottish football team: Heart of Midlothian. My favourite Scott novel is Ivanhoe as the main adversary of Ivanhoe is Sir Nigel de Bracy, a corruption of my family name: Bracey. Set in the 1100’s the Norman Conquest was still resonant in the novel with the dastardly Normans trying to disinherit the Anglo-Saxon nobles like the main protagonist Ivanhoe. A film was made of the novel with Hollywood actor Robert Taylor in the title role…..I am not sure how faithful it was to the original Scott novel………????

The Iron Room

2021 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most famous authors. He was born 15 August 1771 in Edinburgh, and died 21 September 1832 at Abbotsford.

Image of the head and shoulders of Sir Walter Scott in stone, inset into a wall on Canon Street, Birmingham.
Image with thanks to Elliott Brown, Wikimedia Commons

The sculpture on the photograph above appears in Cannon Street, Birmingham. The caption reads ‘Not sure what Walter Scott had to do with Birmingham though!’

In fact, this relief sculpture and the one of William Shakespeare nearby used to be on either side of a first floor window of 6 Corporation Street which housed the booksellers and stationers W.H.Smith & Son. The building was altered in 1923 by architect G.E. Pepper, when the heads were added. [G. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham, 1998]

I hope to illustrate just a few connections between Scott and Birmingham, particularly with the family of the engineer, James Watt (1736-1819).


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