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We Did Not Think That He Could Die: Letitia Elizabeth Landon and the Afterlife of Scott’s Heroines
Abstract

Abstract:

Sir Walter Scott acknowledged that he was unable to create believable female characters, unlike Austen and Ferrier. However, in the 1830s, the popular English poet, Letitia Landon, who was an avid enthusiast of Scott’s work, wrote a series of essays, ‘The Female Portrait Gallery’, each essay devoted to analysing the heroine of a novel by Scott, such as, for example, Flora McIvor of Waverley. Landon does not criticise Scott’s creations in her essays, for she was writing for a Victorian readership, but from a twenty-first-century perspective, one has to agree with Scott’s own opinion of his female characters; his young women are idealised abstractions and the older ones caricatures. But where a heroine is based on a real person, such as Alice Lee in Woodstock (who was probably inspired by his own daughter) such a female character, while still an unattainable archetype, seems somewhat more lifelike.