The Scottish Chiefs

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“Fiona Price’s edition of Jane Porter’s The Scottish Chiefs (1810) confirms its place as a key work in the development of the Romantic novel. In her wide-ranging introduction Price not only explores the novel’s reputation as an influential precursor to Walter Scott’s historical romances, but also establishes its topical force as an eloquent intervention on masculinity, heroism, and patriotism written at the height of the war against Napoleon. Price’s authoritative account of the author’s life and literary network is a valuable contribution to the history of women’s writing. The appendices, highlighting Porter’s editorial supplements, the critical controversy surrounding the novel, and other versions of the legend of William Wallace, provide fascinating insights into print culture and the workings of historical memory.” ― Emma Clery, Southampton University

Rooted in political controversy, gender warfare, violence, and revolution, Jane Porter’s The Scottish Chiefs is the epic story of William Wallace’s struggle for Scottish independence from English rule. After the cruel death of his wife at the hands of the English, Wallace embarks on a patriotic crusade to free Scotland, gathering around himself loyal followers of both sexes, drawn from across Scottish society. Using the cross-dressing motifs of romance, Porter demonstrates that women have a crucial role to play in the drama of national identity, either as temptresses or national heroines. The Scottish Chiefs is a landmark in the development of the historical novel, and explores vital questions of patriotism, civic duty, heroism, and the role of women.

This Broadview edition offers a critical introduction and important historical contexts for the novel in the form of reviews, excerpts from Porter’s prefaces, and other contemporary accounts of William Wallace.

his is a historical novel, a fictional book about a historical person and events. Sir William Wallace was a real life hero of the Scottish people and the battles, honors and his execution along with a lot of the circumstances in this book really happened. Miss Porter in writing this opened up the world of the struggle for freedom of the Scots in the late 1200s and 1300s. She satisfactorily invented plots and people and times (and especially the ending of the book) because there seems to be very little actual factual information about William Wallace in existence even today. She takes the reader from life in the peaceful times to the bitter battles and struggles that the people of those years faced everyday. She portrayed King Edward I (Longshanks) as the despot he really was.
I love the book, and as a romantic, I really liked the ending. The ending sounds possible but not probable. That’s all I’m saying about the end.
Miss Porter writes very well, in my opinion, and has a good word picture flow through the chapters and the insertion of her book’s content into the real times and events was/is believable and entertaining. She depicted the economic times and the wishy-washy characters of a lot of the nobles of that era – “do whatever you must to keep your nobility and holdings”, in a most human way. I think any first time reader should enjoy it and could be as engrossed in it as I was. I literally read this book in about a week. For the number of pages, 504, of the book and the lack of speed with which I read, that is really moving for me. For me it was an “I can’t put this book down”. Give it a reading.

The Scottish Chiefs

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