Season 3 Episode 16: Joan Dunnett on Reading Sir Walter Scott

“Disbanded” Illustration to Walter Scott’s novel, Waverley, (Public Domain)

Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you for listening in.

I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you.  I am delighted and thrilled that my friend, Joan Dunnett, writer of “Tides of Change,” and I have once again bridged the 7,059 kilometres between Edinburgh and Vancouver to discuss, Sir Walter Scott, who is remembered for his extensive literary works and political engagement.  Many of his works remain classics of both English literature and Scottish literature. Famous titles include The Lady of the Lake, which was a narrative poem, and the novels Waverley, Old Mortality, Rob Roy, The Heart of Mid-Lothian, The Bride of Lammermoor, and Ivanhoe.

Joan Dunnett

Joan Dunnett has read all of Sir Walter Scott’s books and has just recently re-read Waverley.  In a recent e-mail Joan wrote, “Waverly was Scott’s first novel, and in many ways is a good starting point. The main character, Edward Waverley, is a ‘romantic’ sort of person, and I wonder if he is meant to resemble Scott himself.

Joan accepted my invitation to share her thoughts on reading Sir Walter Scott and has joined me to encourage us to place Sir Walter Scott on top of our “to be read” books for 2021.

This promises to be an extraordinary discussion. So, put the kettle on and add your thoughts on Tea Toast & Trivia.

Thank you for joining Joan and me on Tea Toast & Trivia. Thank you, Joan, for sharing your enjoyment of the books of Sir Walter Scott. And a thank you to my dear blogger friend and frequent podcast guest, Liz Humphrey from Leaping Life who introduced me to Joan and recommended, “Tides of Change.”  I am adding my recommendation to Liz’s and invite you to meet up with Joan Dunnett on Goodreads.  You are only an internet click away from being swept away on a daring adventure. 

Until next time we meet, keep safe and be well.

Joan Dunnett on Reading Sir Walter Scott

D. Wallace Peach Reading Liars & Thieves, Unraveling the Veil Book One Tea. Toast. & Trivia.

  1. D. Wallace Peach Reading Liars & Thieves, Unraveling the Veil Book One
  2. Traveling to Orkney with Lorna Brown
  3. Kim Mooney on Hidden Daughter – Secret Sister, A Story of Adoption
  4. Joan Dunnett on Reading Sir Walter Scott
  5. Dr. Leith Davis on The Lyon in Mourning

50 Replies to “Season 3 Episode 16: Joan Dunnett on Reading Sir Walter Scott”

  1. I’ve read several of Sir Walter Scott’s novels, but not anywhere near 26 of them. Wow. It’s not surprising that we think of him as a writer, but as with many authors, Scott’s life and experiences outside of writing is what make his stories so interesting and worthwhile. That was a very informative TT&T. Thank you Joan for taking the time to expand our knowledge of Sir Walter Scott. And thank you Rebecca for inviting Joan to participate in this wonderful session.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you for your heartwarming and encouraging comments. I remember reading the “children’s versions” of Sir Walter Scott. Don and Joan had a great discussion because Sir Walter Scott was one of Don’s favorite authors growing up. Writing has changed over the centuries, but the stories remain ever fresh, ever relevant. Many thanks coming your way, Tim. Your comments are very much appreciated.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Tim, your comment prompted memories of discussion back in my grad school days about the direction literary fiction in particular was taking with the proliferation of MFA programs and a career path to academia. The thought was (which I tend to agree with) is that it can result in very insular fiction. I should probably dig into current issues of The Writer’s Chronicle to see where that discussion stands!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Liz, I think there is always the danger in any field becoming insular. When I was a geography student, we talked about armchair geographers who never observed the geography they described. Of course, those following the Humanists trying to create a Renaissance learned by observation that the life and learning they pined for in the old books were wrong. But then today, with so much information readily available, finding facts to spice up one’s fiction should be relatively easy. That would be interesting to see where the discussion stands.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The direction the discussion seems to be going in now is the role of lived experience (or authenticity) in fiction versus observation, imagination, and research. Fascinating stuff!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Would the “lived experience” be like when I tell some one who is complaining about a questionable or bad experience to stop complaining and turn it into a story? If one lives to tell about it does he or she really have any right to complain? The person has a story that can be expanded, embellished and made wholly more interesting than whining about the experience.

        There’s a song by AJR called “100 Bad Days” the chorus includes:

        “Maybe a hundred bad days made a hundred good stories
        A hundred good stories make me interesting at parties”

        I think AJR has the right attitude for creating authentically experienced fiction.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. These are very interesting questions – ones that will have me thinking going forward. I think of the amazing diarists that wrote their lives as they lived their lives, a feat that seems to me almost impossible. One of my favourite quotes by Sir Walter Scott (and you knew that I would include a quote somewhere in my comment) is: “One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honor or observation.” I’m ready for a party!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I agree, Liz – fascinating. As you know I have been reading poetry in public domain and making comparisons with today’s poetry. The themes are the same, but the words and delivery are markedly different. And I think that it has been influenced by how we express “lived experiences.”

        Like

  2. Oh yes indeed, Sir Walter Scott you bring me back in time, time of my youth and early important reading discoveries, first from poking around my parents’ library, to acquiring my own eventually. As a matter of fact, not only was he an early read and acquisition of mine, but two of his works, Ivanhoe 1819 and The Talisman 1825 I am proud to own in leather-bound gold leaf trim volumes. I am most thankful to you Rebecca and Joan Dunnett for reawakening old reading memories, thus so seek out one of his many I’ve not yet read. Tomorrow I hope to be able to listen to your interview with Joan.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This is exciting news, Jean-Jacques to have leather-bound gold lea trim volumes. I know that you will enjoy Joan’s discussion. It’s the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott’s birthday – so let us celebrate. Sir Walter Scott was one of Don’s favourite authors. Sending hugs to you and Marianne!

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Hi Rebecca, another fascinating conversation about Scotland and its history. It is interesting to know that Sir Walter Scott was well liked and had a happy marriage. It is nice to know those sorts of detail. I had no idea he wrote so many books – 26 is quite an achievement, especially at this time when he must have written by hand.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Don and Joan had a great discussion when we connected because he had read all of Sir Walter Scott’s books as well. (Sir Walter Scott is one of Don’s favourite authors). What I found interesting and will be looking into more deeply is Sir Walter Scott’s reference to Robin Hood in his book Ivanhoe. I cannot imagine what it was like to write a book by hand, each of them very long indeed. The other thing that I want to explore is the meeting of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. I understand that Scott, at fifteen, met the twenty-seven-year-old Burns in the “winter of 1786-87” in Edinburgh. If only the walls could talk.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. The meeting between Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott would be interesting to listen to Rebecca. We visited the home and grave of Robert Burns when we were in Dumfries. We had a lovely tour by my friend author Mary Smith who lives in Dumfries.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. That was a wonderful post, Robbie – great photos. Isn’t it wonderful to meet up with fellow bloggers face-to-face. Something to look forward to when travel comes back!

        Liked by 5 people

  4. Rebecca and Joan, thank you so much for this. Thoroughly enjoyable. I was exposed to Scott through films as a kid more than books (Rob Roy and Ivanhoe)- although I think I read Classic for Youngsters versions of both (and probably not doing Scott any favours in the process). It was fascinating to learn about him – the number of his novels and his influence on other writers especially on his bicentenary and a half. Off to discover more about this Scottish lion of literature thanks to you both.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am so glad that you are celebrating Sir Walter Scott with Joan and me. What I especially appreciated about this discussion was learning about Scott’s love for telling the story of society as a whole. One of my all time favourite quotes is from Ivanhoe: “For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.” He had a profound insight about how power influenced for good and bad. Sending many thanks your way!

      Liked by 4 people

  5. I thank you Rebecca and Joan Dunnett for this very emphatetic introduction concerning Sir Walter Scott’s life and books! We’ve done “The lady of the lake” at school and I’ve heard about him, when we travelled in Scottland, but I have to admit that I should really tackle at least “Waverly”!
    I very much like your above mentioned quote, which we all should take to our hearts.:)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in, Martina! When you mentioned reading “The Lady of the Lake” in school, you reminded me of all of my marvelous literature teachers who introduced me to poetry, books, ideas and philosophies that started my reading journey. I am grateful to all who have ignited my curiosity to explore. By the way, were you the one who recommended The Forest of Enchantments by Chita Banerjee Divakaruni? I just finished the book and wanted to thank you for the recommendation. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Yes, Rebecca, we owe a lot to those people who have awoken our enthusiasm!
        The Forest of enchantment must have been recommended to you by another person, but I hope you enjoyed it🤣 Hugs back to you!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Thank you so much for the introduction, Mary Jo. I enjoyed the writing, the story, the way in which I was transported over time and place.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fabulous conversation about Sir Walter Scott, Rebecca and Joan! Joan, your expertise about and regard for Scott and his work really shines in this podcast.

    About a decade ago, I went on a Scott reading binge and finished about 10 of his novels within a few months time. A wonderful experience. He was such an expert at historical fiction, mixing well-drawn characters with the exciting and/or tragic backdrop of real events. I liked “Waverley” a lot, but perhaps Scott was just finding his footing as a novelist because I thought most of his subsequent novels were even better — “Old Mortality” and “The Heart of Midlothian” (my two favorites), the very famous “Ivanhoe” and “Rob Roy,” the lesser-known-but-excellent “Quentin Durward” (much of it set in France), etc. Then I read Edgar Johnson’s massive biography of Scott; a compelling look at Sir Walter’s life.

    Thanks for the great listen!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments, Dave. Every one who reads Sir Walter Scott has a sense that he recognized and valued ordinary life. I have been looking into Scott’s work outside of publishing and came up with this link that I know you will find interesting, given it was written in the early 1900’s: “His fame rests on his poems and novels, but he was also an historian, an antiquarian, a lawyer,a judge and a clerk of the highest Court in Scotland No less a man than Emerson and that Scott, in the number and variety of his characters, approached Shakespeare…..”https://www.jstor.org/stable/3307215?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

      Liked by 4 people

      1. How did he do it, Dave? When Joan said that it seemed like too much for one man, now I know exactly what she means!!! Yikes!

        Liked by 3 people

  7. I really MUST read some Scott…unforgivable that I haven’t other than rendered on film and bits of scattered throughout schoolbook anthologies. I do remember Sir Walter Scott was featured on the childhood card game, Authors. Just imagining Don’s conversation with Joan is enjoyable too…I promise to listen to this podcast by week’s end. Absolutely can’t miss this! Hugs!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know you will enjoy Joan’s discussion, Mary Jo. There are so many books that I would like to read but alas, it is not to be. I find that reading books through the lens of another is a wonderful way to expand my reading. Now I remember it was you who recommended The Forest of Enchantments. A very interesting book! The writing is superb and the way she describes flowers, gardens, forests – I feel that I was in the forest with Sita.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree – Joan’s knowledge about Sir Walter Scott is prodigious. I’m looking forward to a return visit to celebrate Sir Walter Scott’s 250th birthday celebration.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging and supportive comments, Teagan! It means a great deal to me. I am looking forward to Joan’s return when we celebrate Sir Walter Scott’s birthday in August.! Hugs coming back on the wing!

      Liked by 4 people

  8. It is so enjoyable and educational to listen to this conversation. We are thinking about a time 250 years ago and it seems that it happened only yesterday. It is good to hear about an author, a lawyer, a person of education who was able to describe the flavor of the people of that time. His books will be on my 2021 book list, for sure.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am delighted that you listened in, Frances. We always think of Sir Walter Scott as a writer, but he had many responsibilities. I don’t know how he managed to accomplish so much in his life. Here’s to a great year of reading!!! Sending many hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I can’t wait to visit Scotland. I didn’t realize how much Scott contributed to Scotland’s brand and mystique. I’ve certainly become enamored with a place I’ve never visited. 😀 Joan is incredibly knowledgeable, and I loved listening to her discussion of Scott, his book and his role in the nation’s history. Thanks Rebecca. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that Joan shared her knowledge of Scott. She will be coming back for more podcasts in anticipation of Sir Walter Scott’s birthdate on August 15th. I have come to embrace the idea of serendipity, Diana. I met Joan several years ago when I was touring the Georgian House in Edinburgh. She was the resident expert on all matters Georgian. Fast forward to last year, I met up with Joan again, this time virtually, when my blogger friend, Liz Humphreys introduced me to Joan via her book “Tides of Change.” So, here’s an idea – when travel comes back, let’s go to Scotland together and meet up with Joan and Liz! What an adventure that would be.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. LOL. I can’t wait to go there. I have some Sottish roots, but more so, love the mystique. And I’ve never seen a real castle or felt the spirits of the land and history. That’s so cool how you and Joan connected and reconnected. Yes, serendipitous. 😀

        Liked by 3 people

  10. What a marvellous episode, Becky, you both really bring to life the power and joy of Scott’s writing. Have you seen this film launch of the 250 Anniversary year? It’s packed full of well-known Scots talking about their love of Scott, plus a fascinating light-show at the end. https://youtu.be/XiF5ePP_Mo0

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I LOVE the video, Liz – I felt I was back at Abbotsford, feeling the presence of greatness. I have subscribed and am looking forward to following the events and discussion on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you for introducing me to Joan – she is a wealth of information on all the is Sir Walter Scott – writer and lawyer. She has promised to come back for more discussions to celebrate the life of Sir Walter Scott! Sending many hugs and love your way.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. This is fascinating, and I’m thrilled to have come across this blog via Sally Cronin! I just spent much time perusing your other blogs and loved listening and watching the bagpipe video. I’m Scotch-Irish on both sides of the family tree and every time I hear the bagpipes, something within me sighs! Nice to meet you, Rebecca. You’ve gained a new follower!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that we connected and that you listened into Joan’s discussion of Sir Walter Scott. I have just visited your website and signed up to receive your newsletter. I am looking forward to sharing wonderful conversations that are awaiting our arrival. Have you heard the Scottish proverb? “Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.” I love those bagpipes!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I greatly enjoyed your conversation with Joan about Sir Walter Scott, Rebecca. I learned much I didn’t know before. I particularly appreciated your comment that “Cultural memory is kept within our stories.” I’ve yet to read Scott’s books. I have my grandmother’s copies of several of his books in a box under the bed in the guestroom. Perhaps it’s time to drag out the box? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love those boxes filled with treasures from the past. As a child, my father would take me to estate auctions. It was usually in the early summer mornings when the air was still cool. I especially loved the trunks – do you remember those wooden trunks that spoke of many adventures. When we opened them up, there were mostly filled with books. Those auctions are long over. As I look back, they served to bring a community together to remember the person who had passed and to give value to the things that had been collected over the years.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Martina Ramsauer Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.