THE world's first historical novel, Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott, has been reproduced to mark the 200th anniversary of the original publication - with 50,000 words cut out to make it more readable to 21st century readers.

Waverley, which was written anonymously and published on July 7, 1814, was an instant hit. The original print run of 1000 sold out in two days. But while the author is still celebrated, Waverley's lengthy historical explanations and meandering plot leave many modern readers struggling to get to the last page.

Scottish literary historian Jenni Calder has spent months chopping the text from about 135,000 words to just 85,000 in an attempt to introduce the "father of the historical novel" to a new readership.

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She said: "We still acknowledge him as a great writer - the Scott Monument is the biggest monument to a writer anywhere in the world - but people don't read him.

"But Scott is a wonderful story teller, creating unforgettable characters and vividly illuminating the past."

The book tells the story of an aristocratic English soldier, Edward Waverley, who is posted to Scotland in 1745 and becomes entangled in the Jacobite Rising and caught between two women.

The new version will be launched this month by Luath Press, priced £9.99.