Friendship formed

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THE friendship of Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most popular novelists of the nineteenth century, with Robert Stevenson, one of the leading engineers of his generation, will be outlined at Forfar Arts Guild on Thursday evening (tomorrow).

The intriguing talk by Penny Fielding of Edinburgh University will reveal how this friendship brought about a real life adventure for the novelist, which inspired much of his later writing.

As engineer to the Northern Lighthouse Board, Robert Stevenson took a yearly trip in the NLB yacht to inspect all the existing lighthouses on Scotland’s coasts and isles, as well as looking for new sites. He frequently asked friends and experts to accompany him on these trips, both for company and to discuss various ideas and problems for the sighting of new lighthouses.

As an engineer and lighthouse builder, his career had recently been crowned in 1811 with the completion of the Bell Rock lighthouse, whilst Scott had written and published his first novel, ‘Waverley, though under the name of Arthur of Waverley. In 1814, Stevenson asked Scott to accompany him on his inspection of the northern lighthouses, an account of which voyage was later published with the title ‘A voyage in the lighthouse yacht to Nova Zembla and the Lord knows where in the summer of 1814’.

Penny will draw us a picture of the friendship and connection between these two very different Scottish characters of their day.

She is a member of the English Literature Department, with a keen interest in Scottish writing of the nineteenth century. She has written many books, and is currently a general editor of the New Edinburgh Edition of the works of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Her evening is entitled ‘To the Lighthouses: Walter Scott’s Northern Vacation’ and will draw together Scottish geography, history and literature. All are welcome at 7.30 pm at the East and Old Parish Church Hall, Chapel Street, Forfar. Ticket adults £7, children £1.