Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Boreham and His Literary Models Part 13: Walter Scott

This posting is part of a series on F W Boreham and the authors who influenced his literary style. This article is about the influence of the author, Walter Scott (1771-1832):[1]

Poet and Historical Novelist
From the numerous editorials that Boreham wrote on Sir Walter Scott, his many references to Lockhart’s Life of Scott, which Boreham regarded as one of the “two greatest biographies in the language”[2] and his homage at Scott’s tomb one gets a sense of the respect that Boreham had for ‘the Waverley wizard’.[3]

Attracted to stories and storytelling from an early age,[4] Scott’s storytelling ability was enhanced by an “understanding of character and motive”[5] and “a strong feeling for the dignity of all human beings”.[6] He was a poet and the inventor of the true historical novel.

Captured Readers’ Attention
Always attentive to the effect writers had on their readers, Boreham believed that Scott’s hold on the people of Scotland was because he “captured the imagination more than all except perhaps Dickens”.[7] Thomas Carlyle wrote of him, “No fresher painting of Nature can be found than Scott’s.”[8] The popularity of Scott, according to Boreham was attributable to Scott’s “reverence for reality”.[9]

Enamoured by Scott’s passion for antiquity, and the way (unlike Gibbon) Scott’s “history embraces the common man as well as kings and statesmen”,[10] Boreham believed that people’s fascination translated into a revival of the Scottish spirit as Scott was convinced “that the torpid and lethargic Present needed to be brought in contact with a splendid and stately Past”.[11]

Geoff Pound

Image: Walter Scott

[1] Sir Walter Scott was a Scottish writer best remembered for his poems (‘The lady of the lake’) and historical novels which included Waverley and The heart of Midlothian. More information on Walter Scott can be found in the Bloomsbury guide to English literature, 884-885.
[2] F W Boreham, Bunch of everlastings (London: The Epworth Press, 1920), 70.
[3] Boreham, When the swans fly high, 157.
[4] N T Phillipson, ‘Scott as story-teller: An essay in psychobiography’, Scott bicentenary essays: Selected papers read at the Sir Walter Scott bicentenary conference ed. Alan Bell, (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1973), 95.
[5] Beattie, ‘Scott’, Scott bicentenary essays, 14.
[6] Johnson, ‘Scott and the corners of time’, Scott bicentenary essays, 24.
[7] Boreham, Mercury, 11 April 1925.
[8] Thomas Carlyle, ‘Sir Walter Scott’, Thomas Carlyle’s collected works vol. V. (London: Chapman & Hall, 1869), 271.
[9] Boreham, Mercury, 11 April 1925.
[10] Johnson, ‘Scott and the corners of time’, 35.
[11] Boreham, Age, 16 December 1950.