Scott Poetry At Auction – Poetry News December 8th

Today on My Poetic Side we look at the collection of poetry by Sir Walter Scott that will be going up for auction shortly.

Walter Scott “Lost” Poetry Up for Auction

Books of poetry by one of the greatest writers ever produced by Scotland, Sir Walter Scott, that were given to the doctor who helped him regain his health is to go up for auction.

Until now it was not known exactly what had happened to the books, but now the full set has been found.

In 1819 Scott became very ill, so ill that he described himself as

He was allegedly shouting in pain as a result of gallstones, he is even thought to have uttered his last farewells to his beloved children at some stage.

He was treated by Dr William Dick who worked for East India Company. He eventually recovered, later writing to his doctor and promising to send him his upcoming poetry collection as a thank you.

The letter that Scott wrote to Dr Dick has been residing in the collection at Scotland’s National Library for the last 90 years. Until very recently it was not known where the books it mentioned were.

The books, 12 volumes in total, are in great condition and will be amongst the many highlights of the 17th December auction that will be taking place at Bonham’s in London. A senior valuer at Bonhams confirmed that the complete set which was bound in Perth and published in Edinburgh had been privately owned for the last 200 years.

It was an inscription that had been written by the doctor in one of the volumes they had been able to identify the collection. The inscription read,

It would appear that the collection which was published in 1820 has been in Edinburgh since then.

The set which is in very good condition is expected to be of interest to both collectors of Walter Scott and also a number of institutions. There is also some possible interest from doctors who collect things relating to the medical profession.

Scott suffered particularly badly with gallstones, a very serious condition, and Scott once claimed that if it was not for his strength, he may not have been able to fight the agonising pain. So intense was the pain that in 1819 he was forced to dictate the end of

and also the entirety of

from his sickbed to fellow poet William Laidlaw and the publisher John Ballantyne. He also was forced to dictate “Ivanhoe” while suffering cramps caused by the gallstones, barely able to go more than 5 minutes without struggling to breathe.

There are several letters between Scott and his doctor which reference the sending of the books and Scott’s gratitude towards the doctor for saving his life. These leave no doubt as to the authenticity of the collection.

It is expected that they will fetch between £600 – £800.



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