Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh on 15 August 1777. He was educated in Edinburgh and called to the bar in 1792, succeeding his father as Writer to the Signet, then Clerk of Session. He published anonymous translations of German Romantic poetry from 1797, in which year he also married. In 1805 he published his first major work, a romantic poem called The Lay of the Last Minstrel, became a partner in a printing business, and several other long poems followed, including Marmion (1808) and The Lady of the Lake (1810). These poems found acclaim and great popularity, but from 1814 and the publication of Waverley, Scott turned almost exclusively to novel-writing, albeit anonymously. A hugely prolific period of writing produced over twenty-five novels, including Rob Roy (1817), The Heart of Midlothian (1818), The Bride of Lammermoor (1819), Kenilworth (1821) and Redgauntlet (1824). Already sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire, Scott was created a baronet in 1820. The printing business in which Scott was a partner ran into financial difficulties in 1826, and Scott devoted his energies to work in order to repay the firm's creditors, publishing many more novels, dramatic works, histories and a life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Sir Walter Scott died on 21 September 1832 at Abbotsford, the home he had built on the Scottish Borders.
Paul O'Keeffe's acclaimed books include biographies of Wyndham Lewis (Some Sort of Genius, 2000), Gaudier Brzeska (An Absolute Case of Genius, 2004) and Benjamin Robert Haydon (A Genius for Failure, 2009). He has also edited a scholarly edition of Wyndham Lewis's first novel Tarr: the 1918 Version (1990). His most recent book is the critically acclaimed Waterloo: The Aftermath (2014). He lives in Liverpool.