|Walter Scott suffered from polio as a child, and walked with a limp all his life. Trained as a barrister, Scott was always more interested in reading, particularly history and medieval romances--all of which he would eventually make use of in his novels. He began collecting folklore and country ballads, and began to write poetry and, finally, the novels that were to make him famous. The poem, "The Lay of the Last Minstrel", published in 1805, was his first successful work; after that, virtually everything he wrote received wide acclaim. He was made a baronet in 1820 and lived in a vast, pseudo-medieval manor he had built on the banks of the River Tweed. However, he was ruined when his publisher's business collapsed in 1826. Always a fanatically hard worker, Scott drove himself unmercifully in an effort to pay off the debts (?126,000) he felt honor-bound to assume, and this probably led to his death at the age of 61.