- Robert Burns (1759 - 1796)
Robert Burns was born on 25 January 1759 in the village of Alloway> in Ayrshire>. For much of his life he was involved with the land and physical toil and knew well the difficulties of poverty and deprivation. Nevertheless, as a young man he had taken to writing poetry, much of it in his native Scots language. This was unusual - by the end of the 18th century Scots was no longer regarded as the speech of "educated" men and women.
In 1786 he was about to emigrate to the West Indies when he published a collection of his poems in the county town of Kilmarnock - "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect". The book (now known as the Kilmarnock Edition) was an instant success and instead of emigrating he went to Edinburgh where he was welcomed by a number of leading literary figures.
The money he earned firstly allowed him to travel. During his journeys he was to collect and edit many of the almost forgotten songs and, of course, obtain inspiration for further poetry.
Despite the money which he earned from his poems, he still had to make a living by being both a farmer and an excise officer in Dumfries. While trying to cultivate an unproductive farm and carry out his duties as an exciseman, he continued to write - mainly collections of songs which would otherwise have been lost forever. His health had never been particularly robust and he died, aged 37, on 21 July 1796.
Web Sites Dedicated to Robert Burns
There are a lot of Web sites dedicated to Robert Burns, with lots of different approaches and variations on the way in which the information is presented. Here is my selection :
The Robert Burns Club of Milwaukee>
This has to be the most complete Web site dedicated to Robert Burns. The Complete works of Robert Burns, indexed by title, first line, genre, biography, glossary of 2,000 words of Scots dialect and a "concordance" - all the words in Burns poems listed alphabetically and linked to the poems in which they appear. Wow! If you only look at one Rabbie Burns site, this is it!
Tribute to Robert Burns>
Covers some of his "life, loves and lyrics". There is an outline Guide to a Burns Supper> and if you want to send a Burns poem to someone there is an Electronic Postcard of Burns Poems.>
Columbia University has created the Bartleby Library with a vast collection of Familiar Quotations > from a wide range of sources. Of particular interest are the pages of quotations from Robert Burns >
Return to the Index of Famous Scots>
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