SCOTT (WALTER) File of papers relating to the authorial career of Walter Scott, in relation to his publishers, Archibald Constable and Robert Cadell, and to his printers, James Ballantyne & Co
Lot 80
Sold for £ 12,500 (US$ 16,609) inc. premium

Lot Details
SCOTT (WALTER) File of papers relating to the authorial career of Walter Scott, in relation to his publishers, Archibald Constable and Robert Cadell, and to his printers, James Ballantyne & Co SCOTT (WALTER) File of papers relating to the authorial career of Walter Scott, in relation to his publishers, Archibald Constable and Robert Cadell, and to his printers, James Ballantyne & Co
File of papers relating to the authorial career of Walter Scott, in relation to his publishers, Archibald Constable and Robert Cadell, and to his printers, James Ballantyne & Co (in which he was a partner), and to their subsequent bankruptcy, including the draft, with substantial autograph additions by Scott, of the deed of 1819 selling the copyrights of his novels and poems to Constable, and his autograph draft clause retaining his anonymity as author of the Waverley, the archive including:

(i) Draft "Agreement with Walter Scott for Literary Property 2 Feby", with autograph addition and alterations by Scott (amounting to some ninety words), stating that "The said Walter Scott hereby conveys in total right proprietary right & occupation to Messrs Constable & Co for their use holding & benefit from this time henceforth saving always his right of security hereafter mentioned all and whole his entire shares in the copy rights of the following works; renouncing hereby for himself and his heirs all claim thereto and interest hereafter therein: Viz His personal share"; then listing each work, specifying whether each is full share, half share, eighth share or none, namely: Waverley, Guy Mannering, The Antiquary, Rob Roy, Tales of My Landlord, parts 1, 2 and 3, The Bridal of Triermain, Harold the Dauntless, The Roderick Collection, Sir Tristram, Pauls's Letters to His Kinsfolk, first part, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, The Lady of the Lake, Rokeby and The Lord of the Isles, "In consideration whereof the said Archibald Constable & Co hereby agree to pay to the said Walter Scott the sum of Twelve Thousand pounds in the proportions and at the periods after mentioned: Viz Two thousand pounds at two years date after this second of February 1819/ The further sum of 2000 at 3 years date; ---- £2000 at 4 years date; ---- £2000 at 5 years date; ---- £2000 at 6 years date; and a present sum of £2000 on bond, for which Mr Scott has already received the amount; making this in all £12,000", with a note by Scott in the margin: "X It being further agreed & provided that Mr Scott shall pay the Interest on the said two Bonds down to the term of 2nd February 1821 after which day Messrs Constable & Company shall relieve Mr Scott of the said Interest"; after giving further particulars of the bonds, the deed concludes: "And the said Archibald Constable & Co hereby agree that they will in no case avow, or sanction the avowal of the name of the Author of Waverley Tales of Landlord &c /[added in pencil] during his life/ under a penalty of two thousand pounds; and they further agree, as a Security to Mr Scott on this transaction that the Copyrights of the Poems & Poetry described in this annexed first page shall not be held to be their final property until their part of this bargain shall have been implemented by the total payment of the £12,000 engaged for on their part, being made"; the deed subscribed by Scott with a table setting out the payments due for 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825 and 1826, totalling £12000; docketed for filing on the verso "1819/ Agreement with Walter Scott for Literary Property 2 Feby/ Scotts/ agremt holograph enclosed"; plus an abbreviated paraphrase made in 1826, 3 pages, on paper watermarked with Britannia and 'M/ 1804', minor weakness at folds and light dust-staining where folded for filing and exposed, but overall in attractive and fresh condition, 4to, 2 February 1819

(ii) Draft of an agreement for the same transaction, seemingly in the hand of John Ballantyne, headed Edinburgh, 2 February 1819, beginning: " of agreement entered into by Walter Scott Esq on the one side & Messrs A Constable & Co on the other part – that is to say...", with revisions and deletions, 3 pages, 4to

(iii) Autograph memorandum by Scott: "The novels to remain anonymous till the authors death. To ensure this in case of accident a penalty to be annexed to the breach of the article/ The printing to be at Mr Scotts option but to be done as cheap as else where. This only refers to J. B's affairs./ The Bond of £2000 might make part of the paym.t C. relieving W.S. of the sum & taking his own turn for payment."; plus a fair copy in a clerical hand on paper watermarked 1825, 1 page, on a slip of paper with partial watermark 'JWhat[man]/ 181[?1 or 4]' [last digit incomplete], folded for enclosure, slight dust-staining on blank verso, 8vo, [2 February 1819]

(iv) Autograph letter signed ("WS") by Scott to "Mr Constable/ With a book": "There can be no objection whatever on my part to your doing whatever you think most advantageous with the New Matter", and returning the "Fossbrooke" [i.e. Fosbrooke's British Monachism, used by Scott in writing The Monastery and The Abbot] , 1 page, black wafer-seal, 8vo, 31 December 1819

(v) Retained copy of a letter by Constable's to Walter Scott, subscribed "Signed A Constable", docketed as "agreeing to our Making use of the Miscellaneous Poetry" ("...The additions you have been so good as to make to the Collection are valuable and much oblige us. Fuerman & Harold have not done quite so well as we expected, and we have thought it might be useful to add the new matter to a few Copies of these Poems which has just come from the Press – I suppose you would not disapprove of our doing so to help us a little further with our big bargain in these bad times..."), 2 pages, paper watermarked 1818, plus integral blank, 4to , Edinburgh, 30 December 1819

(vi) Autograph letter signed by John Gibson Lockhart, to Archibald Constable, discussing his proposal for a Scott edition of Shakespeare [of which only three volumes were printed and none sold], opening: "I have had a good deal of communication with Sir Walter Scott about the Shakespeare and I believe there will be no difficulty to the plan started by either of us, in case you have quite made up your mind. It is indeed quite impossible that anything should be handsomer than your proposed arrangements & I can only say that I honestly believe you are the only bookseller the world ever saw that was capable of conceiving & executing such schemes. Long may you both conceive & execute"; to this end he asks Constable to supply "a copy of Johnsons & Steevens to be interleaved with quarto paper – for I think that will be the likeliest way for Sir W. to read over & add to my Notes without too much trouble", adding that "The Baronet & all the family here are as well as possible"; autograph address, leaf, seal, Melrose postmark, docketed by recipient "1823/ J G Lockhart/ Abbotsford/ 28 April", 3 pages, 4to, Abbotsford, 28 April 1823

(vii) Autograph draft of a long letter to Sir Walter Scott, evidently by Constable, setting out in great details the proposed edition of Shakespeare, 3 pages, 4to

(viii) Bond signed by Archibald Constable (for his company and for himself) and Robert Cadell, to "Walter Scott, Esquire of Abbotsford" for £2,100, payable in 1823, witnessed by John Kermack and David Constable, duty-stamped, 1 page, on paper watermarked with Britannia and 'Sharp/ 1804', oblong folio, 1819

(ix) Papers relating to bonds issued by Walter Scott and Archibald Constable & Co, including three letters, to Sir Walter Scott and Archibald Constable & Co, by James Nicolson, John Kermack and Kermack as representative of the late John Ronaldson, agreeing to a deferment of dates at which bonds owing to them are payable, all dated 9 July 1823; retained copy of Nicolson's bond; a discharge signed by James Hope, as trustee, in respect of his bond

(x) Group of memoranda setting out questions, with answers, asked by the Trustees for the Estate of Archibald Constable & Co of Robert Cadell, regarding: "the Contracts with Sir W. Scott [deleted] Mr Ballantyne [inserted] for two works of Fiction to be written by the Author of Waverley", "the publication of the History of Scotland by Sir W. Scott", "the publication of Woodstock", "Shakespeare by Sir Walter Scott", 'the 'Life of Napoleon Buonaparte'", "relative to Bonds understood to be secured on the Copy rights of some of the Works of the Author of Waverley", "Scotts Miscellaneous Prose Works", and "'Travels on the Continent' by Sir W. Scott"; with questions put to Constable regarding Woodstock and Bonaparte

(xi) Rough notes on bills drawn by Walter Scott and John and James Ballantyne in 1817, 2 pages, 4to

(xii) List, addressed to Cadell, of monthly receipts from July 1821 to June 1822, under the headings of "Poetry" and "Novels", subscribed with calculations, evidently by Cadell, 1 page, 4to, [c.1822/3]

(xiii) Rough note headed "Edin 23 Sept 1818/ Statement of uncovered engagements at this date to Sundries", listing those to "Author of 3d series of Tales", "WScott", "Jas B &Co", "Jno B", amounting to over £10,000, 1 page, 4to

(xiv) List of copyrights of eighteen works, from Waverley to Marmion, docketed "Walter Dickson W.S.", 1 page, 4to; with another similar


  • 'THE NOVELS TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS': WALTER SCOTT SELLS THE COPYRIGHT OF 'WAVERLEY', 'ROB ROY' AND HIS OTHER WORKS TO CONSTABLE, in what has come to be seen as a landmark transaction in publishing history, together with papers relating to the ensuing bankruptcy of Scott and his publishers.

    The present set of papers appears to derive in part from the papers of Scott's publisher, Constable, and were probably put together by Walter Dickson, WS, or a similar party when acting for the Trustees of the Estate of Archibald Constable & Co (see the group of questionnaires above). Many of them, such as draft of 1819 for the sale of Scott's copyrights to Constable and Scott's autograph stipulation that he remain anonymous, long pre-date the bankruptcy. Taken together, they chart the rise of Constable as a publisher, and the collapse of 1825-26: 'If the three great projects of Constable's first twenty years as a publisher were the Edinburgh Review, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Walter Scott, his ambition in the 1820s was to revolutionize publishing. On 17 January 1819 he offered Scott £12,000 for the purchase of all his copyrights, in fiction, in poetry, and in prose; Scott was initially reluctant, but was talked into agreement. Part of the objective was, as argued above, to secure Scott as a Constable author... Working with his new partner in London, Hurst, Robinson & Co., Constable was realizing the value of literary property in a way no previous publisher had attempted' (David Hewitt, 'Archibald Constable', ODNB).

    Some of this material is published by Thomas Constable, Archibald Constable and his Literary Correspondents, iii, 1873, p.246, for example the letter by Lockhart to Constable (vi above), while others, such as Constable's draft letter to Scott (v), or Scott's letter to Constable (iv), have not.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £175,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £175,001 to £3,000,000 the Hammer Price
12.5% from £3,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

  1. Luke Batterham
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 7393 3828
    FaxFax: +44 20 7393 3879
Similar Items