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Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem and song " Auld Lang Syne " is often sung at Hogmanay the last day of the year , and " Scots Wha Hae " served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. He was born in a house built by his father now the Burns Cottage Museum , where he lived until Easter , when he was seven years old.

Here Burns grew up in poverty and hardship, and the severe manual labour of the farm left its traces in a premature stoop and a weakened constitution. He had little regular schooling and got much of his education from his father, who taught his children reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history and also wrote for them A Manual Of Christian Belief. He was also taught by John Murdoch — , who opened an " adventure school " in Alloway in and taught Latin, French, and mathematics to both Robert and his brother Gilbert — from to until Murdoch left the parish.

After a few years of home education, Burns was sent to Dalrymple Parish School in mid before returning at harvest time to full-time farm labouring until , when he was sent to lodge with Murdoch for three weeks to study grammar, French, and Latin. By the age of 15, Burns was the principal labourer at Mount Oliphant.

Despite his ability and character, William Burnes was consistently unfortunate, and migrated with his large family from farm to farm without ever being able to improve his circumstances. At Whitsun , , he removed his large family from the unfavourable conditions of Mount Oliphant to the acre 0. Subsequently, the family became integrated into the community of Tarbolton.

To his father's disapproval, Robert joined a country dancing school in and, with Gilbert, formed the Tarbolton Bachelors' Club the following year. His earliest existing letters date from this time, when he began making romantic overtures to Alison Begbie b. In spite of four songs written for her and a suggestion that he was willing to marry her, she rejected him. This venture accordingly came to an end, and Burns went home to Lochlea farm.

During this time he met and befriended Captain Richard Brown who encouraged him to become a poet. He continued to write poems and songs and began a commonplace book in , while his father fought a legal dispute with his landlord. The case went to the Court of Session , and Burnes was upheld in January , a fortnight before he died. Robert and Gilbert made an ineffectual struggle to keep on the farm, but after its failure they moved to the farm at Mossgiel, near Mauchline , in March, which they maintained with an uphill fight for the next four years.

In mid Burns came to know a group of girls known collectively as The Belles of Mauchline, one of whom was Jean Armour , the daughter of a stonemason from Mauchline. His first child, Elizabeth "Bess" Burns — , was born to his mother's servant, Elizabeth Paton —circa , while he was embarking on a relationship with Jean Armour , who became pregnant with twins in March Burns signed a paper attesting his marriage to Jean, but her father "was in the greatest distress, and fainted away".

To avoid disgrace, her parents sent her to live with her uncle in Paisley. Although Armour's father initially forbade it, they were eventually married in Burns was in financial difficulties due to his want of success in farming, and to make enough money to support a family he took up an offer of work in Jamaica from Dr Patrick Douglas of Garrallan, Old Cumnock , whose sugar plantations outside Port Antonio were managed by his brother Charles, under whom Burns was to be a "book keeper" assistant overseer of slaves.

At about the same time, Burns fell in love with Mary Campbell — , whom he had seen in church while he was still living in Tarbolton. She was born near Dunoon and had lived in Campbeltown before moving to work in Ayrshire. Their relationship has been the subject of much conjecture, and it has been suggested that on 14 May they exchanged Bibles and plighted their troth over the Water of Fail in a traditional form of marriage.

Soon afterwards Mary Campbell left her work in Ayrshire, went to the seaport of Greenock , and sailed home to her parents in Campbeltown. In October , Mary and her father sailed from Campbeltown to visit her brother in Greenock.

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Her brother fell ill with typhus , which she also caught while nursing him. She died of typhus on 20 or 21 October and was buried there. As Burns lacked the funds to pay for his passage to the West Indies, Gavin Hamilton suggested that he should "publish his poems in the mean time by subscription, as a likely way of getting a little money to provide him more liberally in necessaries for Jamaica. To obtain a certificate that he was a free bachelor, Burns agreed on 25 June to stand for rebuke in the Mauchline kirk for three Sundays.

He transferred his share in Mossgiel farm to his brother Gilbert on 22 July, and on 30 July wrote to tell his friend John Richmond that, "Armour has got a warrant to throw me in jail until I can find a warrant for an enormous sum I am wandering from one friend's house to another. The success of the work was immediate, and soon he was known across the country. Burns postponed his planned emigration to Jamaica on 1 September, and was at Mossgiel two days later when he learnt that Jean Armour had given birth to twins. On 4 September Thomas Blacklock wrote a letter expressing admiration for the poetry in the Kilmarnock volume, and suggesting an enlarged second edition.

The Doctor belonged to a set of critics for whose applause I had not dared to hope. His opinion that I would meet with encouragement in Edinburgh for a second edition, fired me so much, that away I posted for that city, without a single acquaintance, or a single letter of introduction. On 27 November Burns borrowed a pony and set out for Edinburgh. On 14 December William Creech issued subscription bills for the first Edinburgh edition of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect , which was published on 17 April Within a week of this event, Burns had sold his copyright to Creech for guineas.

Nasmyth had come to know Burns and his fresh and appealing image has become the basis for almost all subsequent representations of the poet. Here he encountered, and made a lasting impression on, the year-old Walter Scott , who described him later with great admiration:. His person was strong and robust; his manners rustic, not clownish, a sort of dignified plainness and simplicity which received part of its effect perhaps from knowledge of his extraordinary talents.

His features are presented in Mr Nasmyth's picture but to me it conveys the idea that they are diminished, as if seen in perspective. I think his countenance was more massive than it looks in any of the portraits It was large, and of a dark cast, and literally glowed when he spoke with feeling or interest.

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I never saw such another eye in a human head, though I have seen the most distinguished men of my time. His stay in the city also resulted in some lifelong friendships, among which were those with Lord Glencairn , and Frances Anna Dunlop — , who became his occasional sponsor and with whom he corresponded for many years until a rift developed. He embarked on a relationship with the separated Agnes "Nancy" McLehose — , with whom he exchanged passionate letters under pseudonyms Burns called himself "Sylvander" and Nancy "Clarinda".

When it became clear that Nancy would not be easily seduced into a physical relationship, Burns moved on to Jenny Clow — , Nancy's domestic servant, who bore him a son, Robert Burns Clow, in He also had an affair with a servant girl, Margaret "May" Cameron. His relationship with Nancy concluded in with a final meeting in Edinburgh before she sailed to Jamaica for what turned out to be a short-lived reconciliation with her estranged husband.

Before she left, he sent her the manuscript of " Ae Fond Kiss " as a farewell. In Edinburgh, in early , he met James Johnson, a struggling music engraver and music seller with a love of old Scots songs and a determination to preserve them. Burns shared this interest and became an enthusiastic contributor to The Scots Musical Museum. The first volume was published in and included three songs by Burns.

He contributed 40 songs to volume two, and he ended up responsible for about a third of the songs in the whole collection, as well as making a considerable editorial contribution. The final volume was published in On his return from Edinburgh in February , he resumed his relationship with Jean Armour and took a lease on Ellisland Farm, Dumfriesshire, settling there in June.


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He also trained as a gauger or exciseman in case farming continued to be unsuccessful. He was appointed to duties in Customs and Excise in and eventually gave up the farm in Meanwhile, in November , he had written " Tam O' Shanter ". About this time he was offered and declined an appointment in London on the staff of The Star newspaper, [16] and refused to become a candidate for a newly created Chair of Agriculture in the University of Edinburgh , [16] although influential friends offered to support his claims. He did however accept membership of the Royal Company of Archers in After giving up his farm, he removed to Dumfries.

It was at this time that, being requested to write lyrics for The Melodies of Scotland , he responded by contributing over songs. Arguably his claim to immortality chiefly rests on these volumes, which placed him in the front rank of lyric poets. As a songwriter he provided his own lyrics, sometimes adapted from traditional words. He put words to Scottish folk melodies and airs which he collected, and composed his own arrangements of the music including modifying tunes or recreating melodies on the basis of fragments.

In letters he explained that he preferred simplicity, relating songs to spoken language which should be sung in traditional ways. The original instruments would be fiddle and the guitar of the period which was akin to a cittern , but the transcription of songs for piano has resulted in them usually being performed in classical concert or music hall styles. Thomson as a publisher commissioned arrangements of "Scottish, Welsh and Irish Airs" by such eminent composers of the day as Franz Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven , with new lyrics.

The contributors of lyrics included Burns. While such arrangements had wide popular appeal, [19] [20] [21] [22] Beethoven's music was more advanced and difficult to play than Thomson intended. My way is: I consider the poetic sentiment, correspondent to my idea of the musical expression, then chuse my theme, begin one stanza, when that is composed—which is generally the most difficult part of the business—I walk out, sit down now and then, look out for objects in nature around me that are in unison or harmony with the cogitations of my fancy and workings of my bosom, humming every now and then the air with the verses I have framed.

Burns also worked to collect and preserve Scottish folk songs , sometimes revising, expanding, and adapting them. One of the better known of these collections is The Merry Muses of Caledonia the title is not Burns's , a collection of bawdy lyrics that were popular in the music halls of Scotland as late as the 20th century.

Many of Burns's most famous poems are songs with the music based upon older traditional songs. Burns's worldly prospects were perhaps better than they had ever been; but he had become soured, and had alienated many of his friends by freely expressing sympathy with the French and American Revolutions and the advocates of reform and votes for all men. His political views came to the notice of his employers and in an attempt to prove his loyalty to the Crown, Burns joined the Royal Dumfries Volunteers in March On the morning of 21 July , Burns died in Dumfries, at the age of The funeral took place on Monday 25 July , the day that his son Maxwell was born.

He was at first buried in the far corner of St. Michael's Churchyard in Dumfries; a simple "slab of freestone" was erected as his gravestone by Jean Armour, which some felt insulting to his memory. Armour had taken steps to secure his personal property, partly by liquidating two promissory notes amounting to fifteen pounds sterling about 1, pounds at prices. James Currie.


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  • Subscriptions were raised to meet the initial cost of publication, which was in the hands of Thomas Cadell and William Davies in London and William Creech, bookseller in Edinburgh. Burns was posthumously given the freedom of the town of Dumfries. Through his twelve children, Burns has over living descendants as of Burns's style is marked by spontaneity, directness, and sincerity, and ranges from the tender intensity of some of his lyrics through the humour of "Tam o' Shanter" and the satire of "Holy Willie's Prayer" and "The Holy Fair". Burns's poetry drew upon a substantial familiarity with and knowledge of Classical , Biblical , and English literature , as well as the Scottish Makar tradition.

    Some of his works, such as "Love and Liberty" also known as "The Jolly Beggars" , are written in both Scots and English for various effects. His themes included republicanism he lived during the French Revolutionary period and Radicalism , which he expressed covertly in " Scots Wha Hae ", Scottish patriotism , anticlericalism , class inequalities, gender roles, commentary on the Scottish Kirk of his time, Scottish cultural identity, poverty, sexuality, and the beneficial aspects of popular socialising carousing, Scotch whisky, folk songs, and so forth. The strong emotional highs and lows associated with many of Burns's poems have led some, such as Burns biographer Robert Crawford, [37] to suggest that he suffered from manic depression —a hypothesis that has been supported by analysis of various samples of his handwriting.

    Burns himself referred to suffering from episodes of what he called "blue devilism". The National Trust for Scotland has downplayed the suggestion on the grounds that evidence is insufficient to support the claim. The Edinburgh literati worked to sentimentalise Burns during his life and after his death, dismissing his education by calling him a "heaven-taught ploughman". Burns influenced later Scottish writers, especially Hugh MacDiarmid , who fought to dismantle what he felt had become a sentimental cult that dominated Scottish literature.

    While this may not be so obvious in Service's English verse, which is Kiplingesque, it is more readily apparent in his Scots verse. Scottish Canadians have embraced Robert Burns as a kind of patron poet and mark his birthday with festivities. Lincoln composed a toast. The author J. Salinger used protagonist Holden Caulfield's misinterpretation of Burns's poem " Comin' Through the Rye " as his title and a main interpretation of Caulfield's grasping to his childhood in his novel The Catcher in the Rye.

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    The poem, actually about a rendezvous, is thought by Caulfield to be about saving people from falling out of childhood. Burns became the "people's poet" of Russia. In Imperial Russia Burns was translated into Russian and became a source of inspiration for the ordinary, oppressed Russian people.

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    In Soviet Russia, he was elevated as the archetypal poet of the people. As a great admirer of the egalitarian ethos behind the American and French Revolutions who expressed his own egalitarianism in poems such as his "Birthday Ode for George Washington" or his " Is There for Honest Poverty " commonly known as "A Man's a Man for a' that" , Burns was well placed for endorsement by the Communist regime as a "progressive" artist. A new translation of Burns begun in by Samuil Marshak proved enormously popular, selling over , copies. He remains popular in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union.

    Burns clubs have been founded worldwide. The first one, known as The Mother Club, was founded in Greenock in by merchants born in Ayrshire , some of whom had known Burns.

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    Burns's birthplace in Alloway is now a public museum known as Burns Cottage. Ellisland Farm in Auldgirth , which he owned from to , is maintained as a working farm with a museum and interpretation centre by the Friends of Ellisland Farm. Significant 19th-century monuments to him stand in Alloway, Leith, and Dumfries. An early 20th-century replica of his birthplace cottage belonging to the Burns Club Atlanta stands in Atlanta , Georgia.

    These are part of a large list of Burns memorials and statues around the world. In the suburb of Summerhill, Dumfries , the majority of the streets have names with Burns connotations. A British Rail Standard Class 7 steam locomotive was named after him, along with a later Class 87 electric locomotive, No. Several streets surrounding the Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. It stood until when it was relocated downtown, sparking protests from the neighbourhood, literary fans, and preservationists of Olmsted's vision for the Back Bay Fens. In November , Burns was awarded the title Honorary Chartered Surveyor [61] by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the only posthumous membership so far granted by the institution.

    The oldest statue of Burns is in the town of Camperdown, Victoria. The Soviet Union was the first country in the world to honour Burns with a commemorative stamp, marking the th anniversary of his death in The Royal Mail has issued postage stamps commemorating Burns three times. In , two stamps were issued, priced fourpence and one shilling and threepence, both carrying Burns's portrait. In , an issue commemorating the bicentenary of his death comprised four stamps, priced 19p, 25p, 41p and 60p and including quotes from Burns's poems.

    On 22 January , two stamps were issued by the Royal Mail to commemorate the th anniversary of Burns's birth. In the Royal Mint issued a commemorative two pound coin featuring a quote from "Auld Lang Syne". In , singer Jean Redpath , in collaboration with composer Serge Hovey , started to record all of Burns's songs, with a mixture of traditional and Burns's own compositions. The project ended when Hovey died, after seven of the planned twenty-two volumes were completed. In , a musical about Burns's life called Red Red Rose won third place at a competition for new musicals in Denmark.

    Tbf, they usually are quite amusing. They really do drink a lot of Irn Bru. Some say it tastes like drinking Coca-Cola whilst having a nose bleed, but not the Scottish. They adore it. You know what they say about three being a magic number… pic. They've never eaten a deep fried mars bar, though. They're for American tourists. Don't even bother asking if Scottish boys keen on them, because they probably have less of a clue that you. They'll be very proud of all the bands from Scotland.

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    They'll tell you Biffy Clyro are great, Young Fathers and Admiral Follow are both brilliant and Scottish bands are better than all other bands. He like you will be outraged by how much drinks is outside of Scotland. Advice from Ian Sterling: "If, on your date, the conversation starts running dry, tell him about the last time you went out in a big city. Impart how much you paid for a couple of drinks. His outrage will last you until dessert. Yes, he probably does wear a kilt sometimes. There are two answers you will receive from all Scottish man, to the inevitable kilt based questions you will ask.

    They're not big fans of the English football team. If you're not a football fan, go to Scotland and cheer on the English opposition. You may find a new love for the game. Burns Night' is a big deal. If you don't know what it is, google it. But you can expect haggis, alcohol, and a lot of talk about some guy called Robert Burns. If you complain that it's cold, expect to hear a 2 hour story about how 'you don't know what cold is until you've lived in Scotland'. If you ever go to T In The Park together , he'll know half the people there. Don't ask what a-levels he did, because he didn't take any.

    Nope, in Scotland they do something called Highers instead. Weird, right?