Frolics in the Face of Europe: Sir Walter Scott, Continental Travel and the Tradition of the Grand Tour

Author(s): Iain Gordon Brown 

ISBN: 9781781558096
£17.50 £25.00
A new study of Scott to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his birth in 1771, which focuses on little-explored aspects of his life.
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  • The first evaluation for many years of Scott as a traveller, and the first ever single treatment of all his Continental travels

  • Detailed discussion of his late-in-life venture to the Mediterranean in 1831-1832, drawing on fresh source material and re-evaluating evidence for his time in Naples and Rome in a new light

  • Deals as much with those trips dreamed of and planned – but not accomplished – as with those actually achieved: projected journeys to Spain and Portugal, Germany and Switzerland

  • Profusely illustrated with some unpublished colour and mono photographs from the author’s and other private collections

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) wrote frequently of his desire to travel widely in Europe. He made, however, only three Continental ventures. Two were to Belgium and Paris. Shortly before his death, he at last journeyed to the Mediterranean. His time in Naples and Rome provoked both interest and sadness: most of all, it caused him to reflect on the Scotland of his mind and heart.

These trips are full of interest – but so are the many other schemes Scott entertained for wider travelling, notably to Spain and Portugal, Switzerland and Germany. In Frolics in the Face of Europe: Sir Walter Scott, Continental Travel and the Tradition of the Grand Tour, all are examined in the context of the Grand Tour tradition, and in the new kind of ‘romantic’ travel that, after 1815, came to replace it.

By drawing on Scott’s letters and journal, on his verse, prose fiction and the literature of travel, which gave him such a wide knowledge of the world without even leaving his library at Abbotsford, many social, literary and artistic connections are made. Events, places and personalities are linked, often in surprising ways.

This book offers a fresh view of Scott as the 250th anniversary of his birth approaches.

BOOK ISBN 9781781558096
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Hardback
PAGES 256 pages
PUBLICATION DATE 18 November 2020
ILLUSTRATIONS 52 b/w and colour engravings and illustrations



Dr Iain Gordon Brown was formerly Principal Curator of Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland and has held the honorary office of Curator of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s national academy. A widely published scholarly author, he has edited two books on Walter Scott, and written numerous essays on the man and his world. A past President of the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club, he is a member of the Curatorial Expert Advisory Panel of the Abbotsford Trust.