21/01/2015
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

New research reveals details of Robert Burns's Scottish tours

9cb2f41e-7c79-4989-822a-8aad2bb74433
Researchers have created the most complete mapping of the route that Robert Burns took on his tours of the Borders, Highland and Lowland Scotland in the 1780s.

It has been published as part of a major new edition of the Bard’s prose work, the first time that Burns’s complete writings have been made available to the public in fully annotated and edited form.

Experts from the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow and National Library of Scotland have traced Burns’s tour itineraries on early 19th century road maps of Scotland and northern England. The maps, which are available online, will enable enthusiasts to follow Burns closely through the places and landscapes that inspired him.

Working directly from the handwritten journal and letters that Burns wrote whilst journeying around Scotland and the north of England in 1787, as well as other related documents, literature experts from the University of Glasgow have retraced details of the routes which became hugely influential to his later work.

THE TRAVELS OF ROBERT BURNS

The Tour Journal, letters and other related documents tell us a lot about Burns’s ‘discovery of Scotland’ at the height of his fame. They detail the places he stayed and the people he met, along with wide ranging reflections on Scottish society, history and culture.

The tour journals, with accompanying maps, are included in the new ‘Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns: Commonplace Books, Tour Journals and Miscellaneous Prose’, edited by Professor Nigel Leask, Regius Chair of English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow.

Professor Leask said: 'The tour journals are fascinating because they offer us an insight into the life of a poet who was operating at the peak of his powers and reaping the benefits of his new-found fame. These texts also show Burns ruminating on some of the pressing social and political issues of the day; far from the figure of the "heaven taught ploughman", at this point he was keeping company with some of the wealthiest and most powerful  people in the land.

'I hope that this research will inspire people to engage with the work of Burns and consider him as a man who reacted to his surroundings, not only spaces that he passed through, but the social, political and physical environments that he found himself in.'

The ‘Prose Volume’ also contains Burns’s Commonplace Books, which has early drafts of some of his most important poems and songs, as well as miscellaneous prose writings, ranging from the prefaces to the Kilmarnock and Edinburgh editions, through the poet’s blueprint for a working-class library in Dumfriesshire, to his correspondence in the newspapers touching on matters of contemporary political and social import. 

Burns’s Commonplace Books, Tour Journals and Miscellaneous Prose is the first volume of the ‘Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century’ project to be published. Beginning in 2009, the 250th anniversary of the poet’s birth, the whole project will take at least fifteen years to complete. Find out more at the project website.



(Maps copyright National Library of Scotland, courtesy of the 'Editing Burns for the 21st century project')

Back to "Burns Night" Category

21/01/2015 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

The first public sedan chairs in Scotland became available - On this day in Scottish history

Scotland's first public hire sedan chairs became available on 19 October 1687.


Queen consort Margaret Tudor died on 18 October 1541

Queen consort Margaret Tudor died on 18 October 1541.


The best Scottish castles to visit – History Scotland’s ultimate castles guide

Which are the best Scottish castles to explore? Which castles in Scotland are open during the winter? Plan ...


History events in Scotland - November 2018

Discover things to do in Scotland in November with our round-up of history-inspired events. ...


Other Articles

Craigmillar Castle to stage Mary Queen of Scots light projection event - 1 to 4 November 2018

Experience Craigmillar Castle in a different light with a new after-dark event ‘Spotlight on Mary Queen of ...


The Skye Bridge opened - on this day in Scottish history

The Skye Bridge opened on 16 October 1995.


King James II of Scotland was born - On this day in Scottish history

King James II of Scotland was born on 16 October 1430. ...


HMS Hawke was sunk by a U Boat - On this day in Scottish history

The British battleship HMS Hawke was sunk by a U Boat on 15 October 1914. ...