The course of life to which Mary and her little retinue were doomed, was in the last degree secluded and lonely, varied only as the weather permitted or rendered impossible the Queen's usual walk in the garden, or on the battlements. -from The Abbot They were the literary phenomenon of their time: The Waverly novels, 48 volumes set in fanciful re-creations of the Scottish Highlands (and other lands) of centuries past, published between 1814 and 1831 and devoured by a reading public hungry for these sweeping, interconnected melodramas. The series popularized historical fiction, though they're also abundant in astute political and social commentary. The Abbot, Volume 21 of Waverly, follows directly on from The Monastery (Vol. 18) and features a vividly depicted Mary Queen of Scots during the time of her imprisonment at Lochleven Castle. Scottish novelist and poet SIR WALTER SCOTT (1771-1832), a literary hero of his native land, turned to writing only when his law practice and printing business foundered. Among his most beloved works are The Lady of the Lake (1810), Rob Roy (1818), and Ivanhoe (Waverly Vols. 16 and 17) (1820).