Rave Reviewer Now At Abbotsford

3rd Mar 2016

Frankenstein Reviewed as part of Abbotsford’s latest exciting exhibition: Rave Reviewer!

The Abbotsford Trust is delighted to host a special new exhibition at Abbotsford this season in partnership with the National Library of Scotland.

‘Rave Reviewer: Scott on Frankenstein, Emma and Childe Harold’ tells the fascinating story of Walter Scott’s engagement and interaction with some of the most famous literature of the early nineteenth century: the works of Mary Shelley, Jane Austen and Lord Byron. Scott achieved this through penning some of the most insightful, sympathetic and outstanding literary reviews of the age – an age in which reviews on all manner of subjects were often more widely read than the original publications. Walter Scott was central to the setting up and popularity of John Murray’s Quarterly Review and would remain a key contributor throughout his years as the most famous and prolific novelist of the time. With novelists and reviewers often writing anonymously, the story behind the exhibition is one where appearances can be deceiving. Few were as capable at playing this elaborate game as Scott – he even anonymously reviewed his own novels in 1816. This was without doubt, the harshest review these works received.

Two hundred years from the time that Mary Shelley first began work on Frankenstein, in the company of her husband Percy Byssche Shelley and Lord Byron, visitors will be able to see a very rare first edition of the gothic novel belonging to Walter Scott, one of only 500 copies originally circulated, along with his first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma. Visitors will also be able to see a selection of letters and manuscript reviews that bring to life the story behind preparing a work for publication and review, including original documents in the hand of the poet Percy Byssche Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott, on loan from the National Library of Scotland. Many of these items are going on display to the public for the first time. There will also be original artwork on display from accomplished artist Hugh Buchanan, inspired by Scott’s review of Byron’s famous poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

The exhibition will be on display in the historic house from Saturday 2nd April 2016 and run until the end of the season on November 2016. Entry is included as part of the admission ticket to the house.

The exhibition is collaboration between the National Library of Scotland’s Murray Archive and the Abbotsford Trust:

Kirsty Archer-Thompson, Collections and Interpretation Manager for the Abbotsford Trust commented:

‘We are delighted to be collaborating with the National Library of Scotland to tell this fascinating story about a community of readers and writers shaping the present, and indeed future, impact of what we now consider to be classic works of literature. Novels such as Frankenstein did not fare well with reviewing community as a whole and Scott’s acknowledgement of Shelley’s genius ran very much against the grain. This exhibition is a wonderful platform to show that Scott was just as capable of looking to the future as he was to the past.

David McClay, Curator of the John Murray Archive, National Library of Scotland commented:

‘The National Library of Scotland is delighted with this opportunity to bring some of the rare and unique national treasures to the home of Sir Walter Scott. The story they tell about Scott and the reviewing culture of his time is fascinating, not least because it involves some of the greatest literary geniuses of all time.’

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