Monday, 28 October 2013

Robert Burns

Three long lost Robert Burns (1759-1796) manuscripts including letters from the well loved Scottish poet and his friends were discovered earlier this year. Chris Rollie, a researcher discovered the manuscripts inside an Extra Illustrated W. Scott Douglas edition of 'The Works of Robert Burns', from 1877-79. This edition belonged to Burns's publisher, William Paterson.

Ref: 35-R1480, unveiling of the Robert Burns statue in Timaru Botanical Gardens, no date, Sir George Grey Special Collection
One of the discovered letters is from 'Clarinda' the pseudomny for Agnes McLehose. Burns was in love with Agnes and she was the subject of several of his poems including: 'Clarinda (Mistress of My Soul' and 'To Clarinda'. After Burns' death in 1796, Agnes had requested that the intimate letters she had written to Burns be returned to her by Burns' friend and doctor William Maxwell.

Ref: AWNS-19211110-42-1, unveiling of the Robert Burns statue in the Auckland Domain, 1921, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Also discovered were other letters, a manuscript by Burns of an early draft of 'Address to a Woodlark' and a handwritten letter from Burns to Robert Muir, Kilmarnock. The manuscripts have now been sold to a collector.

Ref: AWNS-19230621-44-4, Robert Burns statue in Hokitika, 1923, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Manuscripts by or relating to Robert Burns can be search for in Manuscripts Online (simply enter Burns, Robert into the keyword search box) and include letters from Robert Burns to James Smith about Burns' proposed voyage to the West Indies, 1786 (MS 76, 105, 191); the original manuscripts of the 'The Robert Burns story' by Jonn Cairney, 1971 (NZMS 1103); material relating to the Auckland Burns Club and Literary Society, 1892-1911 (NZMS 154); various research papers by George McKay including research on James Milne Menni and his gifts to Auckland including the statue of Robert Burns, no date (NZMS 1635).

Ref: 35-R142, Robert Burns statue in the Auckland Domain, c. 1921, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The University of Glasgow's Centre for Robert Burns Studies is focused on the development of research, scholarship and teaching in Robert Burns, his cultural period and related literature.

Auckland Libraries also has a number of resources by or about Burns it its heritage collections  inlcuding poems, letters, songs and biographies.

Ref: 35-R474, Robert Burns statue in Dunedin, c.1910-1929, Sir George Grey Special Collections

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