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The son of an Edinburgh lawyer, Walter Scott was educated at the University of Edinburgh and in 1792 became a lawyer himself. Although he retained ties to the legal profession all his life, his primary interest was literature. Scott began his literary career as a poet, composing long tales in verse that were enormously popular. The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), Marmion (1808), and The Lady of the Lake (1810) made him the most popular poet of his day. Sixty-five hundred copies of The Lay of the Last Minstrel were sold in the first three years after publication, a record for poetry sales at the time. Scott's later romances in verse were not quite as popular, partly because of the works of the poet, Byron, who had begun to publish his own more passionate verse, which greatly appealed to the public. Scott then abandoned poetry for the novel. In 1814 he published a historical novel, Waverly, the first of a series that have come to be known as the Waverly novels. He wrote 23 novels during the next 13 years. The Waverly novels range in setting from the year 1090 to 1700. In this magnificent series, Scott covered virtually every period in English history up to his own day. The most famous of these novels is Ivanhoe, the story of a young knight's adventures in love and war. The Waverly novels have historical backgrounds but are always based on fictitious central characters.