Scott was born in Edinburgh, trained as a lawyer, but became a legal official, a job which gave him time to write. He began his writing career by translating German Gothic romances. By 1805, though, his ballads, such as 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel' .had brought him popularity. Many romantic poems - including 'The Lady of the Lake' and 'The Lord of the Isles' - followed; moreover, he worked on new editions of writings by Dryden and Swift.
In the 1810s, he turned to novels, publishing them anonymously, and found a new level of success with 'Waverly', 'Rob Roy' and 'Ivanhoe, among many others. A celebrity of his day, the income from these works gave him the money to build a huge mansion, which he called Abbotsford. In 1820, he was made a baronet. In 1826, when his printer and his publisher, two firms in which he was deeply involved, went bust, he suffered financial ruin. Rather than declaring bankruptcy, he tried, for the rest of his life, to repay the debts. Scott did not start writing a journal until 1825, but he then kept it up until his death. Today, some consider it his greatest work.
Christmas Day 1825
By dint of abstinence and opodeldoc ( a patent medicine DBH) I passed a better night than I could have hoped for; but took up my lodging in the chapel room, as it is called, for going upstairs was impossible. To-day I have been a mere wretch. I lay in bed till past eleven, thinking to get rid of the rheumatism; then I walked as far as Turnagain with much pain, and since that time I have just roasted myself like a potato by the fireside in my study, slumbering away my precious time, and unable to keep my eyes open or my mind intent on anything, if I would have given my life for it. I seemed to sleep tolerably, too, last night, but I suppose Nature had not her dues properly paid; neither has she for some time. I saw the filling up of the quarry on the terrace walk, and was pleased. Anne and I dined at Mertoun, as has been my old wont and use as Christmas day comes about. We were late in setting out, and I have rarely seen so dark a night. The mist rolled like volumes of smoke on the road befo