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Title: A life in books : Walter Scott's library at Abbotsford
Author: Levy, Lindsay
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 732X
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2014
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The creation of a highly detailed on-line catalogue of Walter Scott’s Library at Abbotsford has made it possible for the first time, not only to see exactly what items Scott collected, but also in many cases to determine when and how he acquired them. If, as Alberto Manguel has claimed, all libraries are autobiographical, what does this enhanced information about Abbotsford Library tells us about Scott? Five distinct topics have been selected for examination: Americana, Ireland, Science, Politics and Bibliography. They have been chosen because, although they are for the most part not subjects frequently connected with Scott, they are nonetheless areas on which he collected a substantial amount of books or manuscripts, and for which substantive information about his involvement or interest can be deduced from external sources such as his Journal or correspondence. In addition to the investigation of these specific subject areas, the collection as a whole is explored for evidence for Scott’s personal relationships, both with other writers and with members of his family, focussing especially on his collections of Burns and Byron, the commonplace book he kept as a young man, and his own marginalia. Evidence concerning Scott’s final book purchases is surveyed against the conflicting accounts of his mental and physical health in 1831/2 as given by J. G. Lockhart, William Gell, and other contemporary observers, and an account of the afterlife of the Library traces its history from Scott’s death to the present day to examine how closely the present arrangement of the books resembles that intended by Scott, and whether changes which took place after his death could mislead us into drawing incorrect conclusions. Finally a description of the twenty-first century cataloguing process with some statistical analysis of the contents of the Library examines the importance of the holdings to ask if this is a significant collection, even without the provenance of one of the most popular and prolific writers of the Romantic Era, and whether Scott’s influence on nineteenth-century book culture is one of his most important contributions to modern scholarship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN Literature (General) ; PN0441 Literary History ; Z719 Libraries (General)