On the auspicious night that Guy Mannering is shown to the house of the Bertrams of Ellengowan, the Bertrams' heir is born, and Mannering, a skeptical astrologer, predicts the child's future. Five years later the prophecy is fulfilled, and the heir, Harry Bertram, becomes the center of a plot to rob the boy of his inheritance. Harry's subsequent struggles are set against a backdrop of chaos and upheaval in a socially fragmented Scotland where everyone, from landowners to gypsies, is searching for their rightful place.
Guy Mannering is an astrologer who only half-believes in his art. Instead he places his faith in patriarchal power, wealth and social position. But the Scotland of this novel is a nation in which the old hierarchies are breaking down and Guy must learn the limits of the nabob's authority in a society in which each social group - from gypsies and smugglers, to Edinburgh lawyers, landowners and Border store farmers - lives by its own laws.
Born and educated in Edinburgh, Walter Scott
(1771-1832) is credited with establishing the form of the historical novel. Claire Lamont is Professor of English Romantic Literature at University of Newcastle and series editor for Walter Scott
in Penguin Classics. P. D. Garside (editor) is Reader in English at University of Wales, Cardiff. Jane Millgate is Professor of English at Victoria College, University of Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Walter Scott
: The Making of the Novelist.