23/01/2018
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

Unique Robert Burns letter to go on display at National Library of Scotland, Ediburgh

dfd7176f-c446-42ea-928f-a341d4b41b7d

A letter from Robert Burns to one of his oldest friends, which has not been seen in public for more than 100 years, is to go on display at the National Library of Scotland on 25 January 25 to celebrate Burns Night.

The letter was acquired by the Library at auction in 2017. It tells of an evening Burns spent with his former school-friend William Niven in Maybole in Ayrshire, near to where they went to school.

The letter was written in August 1786, just weeks after publication of his first work Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect which was to make his name. At the time he was still considering emigrating to Jamaica but this plan was shelved following the positive reaction to his poems. 

In the letter, Burns thanks Niven for what was clearly a very enjoyable encounter:

 "I thank you with the most heart-felt sincerity for the worthy knot of lads you introduced me to. Never did I meet with so many congenial souls together… To all and each of them make my most friendly compliments particularly ‘Spunkie, youthful Tammie’."

There is a suggestion Burns may not have behaved as well as he would have liked. He refers to “two truly worthy old gentlemen” and adds: “I am afraid the conduct you forced me on may make them see me in a light I would fondly think I do not deserve.”

Although his life was about to change due to the success of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, Burns appeared willing to  play down the importance of his writing. “Never blaze my songs among the million, as I would abhor to hear every prentice mouthing my poor performances in the streets,” he writes to Niven.

The letter, which has been in private hands since 1899, is an important addition to the Library’s collection of material by and about Robert Burns.

It goes on show at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge in Edinburgh on 25 January 2018 from 11am to 3pm. Entry is free.

Places in Scotland connected with Robert Burns.

 

Back to "Burns Night" Category

23/01/2018 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

Lost at Sea - new exhibition explores the dangers of life at sea over the years

A new exhibition which takes a look at the dangers of life at sea, as well as the people and inventions which ...


New Highland Games Centre in Braemar to be completed by September 2018

Work is continuing on a new Highland Games Centre at the site of the Braemar Gathering, which will chart the ...


Free lunchtime lectures - Friends of Dundee City Archives

Enjoy a free history lecture on the first Thursday of the month, at Dundee City Archives. ...


What tartan can I wear?

Find out which tartan you can wear and discover which tartan is linked to your family name or the region ...


Other Articles

Moray student awarded scholarship for ground-breaking archaeology research

A Moray student is to undertake new research into the fate of farms which were set up on marginal land after ...


Two Scottish visitor attractions pass 2 million visitors landmark

Two of Scotland's most popular visitor attractions each welcomed more than 2 millions visitors during 2017, ...


The Tempest Database - exploring five centuries of extreme weather in Scotland

A new website which allows users to browse five centuries of weather data for Scotland and the rest of the UK ...


When is Tartan Day?

Find out when Tartan Day is, and how this special day is celebrated in Scotland, the original home of tartan, ...