Walter Scott's Reliquiae Trotcosienses edited by Gerard Carruthers and Alison Lumsden is to be published today, April 23rd, 2004, by Edinburgh University Press. Until now unpublished, this work was commissioned from Scott in 1830 as a guide to his home and library at Abbotsford. Instead, Scott produced a semi-fictional account of "Trotcosey House" in which he both sent himself up in his antiquarian interests and also, at the same time, insisted that physical artefacts and books have a great deal of meaningful,imaginative human history attached to them. Scott's son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart and others mindful to protect the powerful reputation of the "Wizard of the North" deemed the work, incomplete at Scott's death in 1832, unworthy of publication. However, in spite of impaired physical capacities as the result of several strokes, Scott produced a more cogent work than was thought to be the case. Conservative editorial practices in this edition show that beneath the poor handwriting and the seeming semantic difficulty, the text can be made over ninety per cent intelligible. Particularly interesting in the book, perhaps, are Scott's comments on bibliophile matters and his taste in popular culture (including witchcraft, ballads and popular tracts).
University of Glasgow