He is one of the greatest Scots writers of all time and helped to changed the way the world viewed his home country through his groundbreaking novels.

Now, a leading academic has urged filmmakers to transform the work of Sir Walter Scott into blockbuster movies – and bring the author’s timeless stories to new audiences two centuries after they were written.

Scott was an international phenomenon in the 19th-century, whose best-selling novels changed the way the world viewed Scotland.

Professor Alison Lumsden, Regius chair of English at the University of Aberdeen and co-director of the university’s Walter Scott Research Centre, said that while the work of contemporaries such as Charles Dickens had been adapted for the screen in recent years, it had been several decades since Scott was given the Hollywood treatment.

Prof Lumsden, a Trustee at Abbotsford, Scott’s home in the Borders, said that novels such as The Heart Of Midlothian (1818) and The Bride Of Lammermuir (1819), which both feature strong female characters, would make “fantastic” films 200 years on.

She said movies of the works would bring Scott to younger generations and, in turn, encourage people to rediscover the books.

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Prof Lumsden said: “One of the things we would really like to see is a film based on one of the novels. “That would be fantastic because I think that’s a really good way of getting people to engage with writers again – they see the film and then they read the book.

“There is a whole history of adaptations of Scott, from dramatisations and operas in the 19th-century to comic book versions in the 20th-century that were important in getting Scott into people’s consciousness.

“But there hasn’t been a major film for several decades.

“Scott tells fantastic stories and that really lends itself to film. It’s definitely  time for Scott to be rediscovered [by filmmakers]. Something like The Heart Of Midlothian, which starts off with fantastic scenes in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, would make a fantastic film.

“The story, about the relationship between two sisters and what one sister does for the other, I think has the potential to be an amazing film, and a lot of it is set in Edinburgh, which would be a great backdrop as well.

“The Bride Of Lammermoor is a sort of love story that would also lend itself to a good film. Of course, in the wake of Outlander, some of the Jacobite novels such as Waverley or Rob Roy would be good as well.”

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Prof Lumsden said Scott gave many of his best speeches to women in his novels, whose characters she believes would appeal to current leading actresses. She said: “I think it’s no surprise that when Hollywood did make their version of Ivanhoe (in 1952), their A-List star was Elizabeth Taylor, who played Rebecca. People say Ivanhoe is about chivalry and swashbuckling but Rebecca is by far the most interesting character and the best speech in the whole novel is her damning critique of chivalry.

“And the bit where Jeanie Deans in The Heart Of Midlothian goes to the Queen and begs forgiveness for her sister – that’s really powerful stuff.”

Prof Lumsden spoke ahead of a new documentary In Search Of Sir Walter Scott, to be shown on BBC Scotland tonight. Speaking in the hour-long programme, to mark the 250th anniversary of Scott’s birth, she says: “It’s really quite hard for us to grasp just how popular Scott was.

“There’s a statistic that says that Waverley [Scott’s first novel, in 1814] sold more copies than all other books published that year put together.

“By the time you get to the height of Scott’s novel writing career – Rob Roy or Heart Of Midlothian, for example – they are printing 10,000 copies as the first run and they’re sold out in two weeks.”

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Prof Lumsden, who is also Chair of Heritage and Engagement and Honorary Librarian at Abbotsford, said that there was no better way of engaging with the author than by visiting his grand home.

She added: “Abbotsford changes how people feel about Scott. You can go and see his desk, his library and the environment in which he’s writing and that really brings him to life for people.

“You feel immediately in contact with Scott.”