Robert Burns

Biography of Robert Burns

Robert Burns (1759-1796) is recognised as Scotland's greatest poet. The Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University's Department of Scottish Literature is named for him.

Burns did not attend the University, due to his family's straitened financial circumstances. However, his eldest son Robert Burns Jnr, the younger of the first twins born to Jean Armour, matriculated to study at the University in 1802 and over twenty-five of the characters who appear in his poems studied at the University. These alumni include:

William Auld, "Daddy Auld" the minister of Mauchline (1742-91).

William Dalrymple, the "Dalrymple mild" of The Kirk's Alarm, the minister of Ayr (1746-1814) who baptised Burns.

William M'Quhae, described in The Twa Herds as "that curs'd rascal ca'd M'Quhae", who graduated in 1756.

Alexander Fergusson, (attended 1763) grandson of "Bonnie Annie Laurie", hero of the ballad of The Whistle, "So famous for wit, worth and law".

The University Library's Special Collections Department holds Robert Burn's own copy of his 1787 work, Burns Poems: Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Sp Coll RB 2521). It is signed by Burns on page vii and it is also annotated by him on several pages. An extra verse of Tam Samson's Elegy has been added on the margin of page 152 and there are three manuscripts poems in his hand at the end of the volume.

Burns is depicted in a stained glass windows above the gallery in the centre of the west wall of the Bute Hall. The window was designed in 1893 by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), the English painter, designer, and illustrator. It depicts Burns holding a small posy of daisies in a reference to one of his best-known poems, "To a Mountain Daisy".


Robert Burns

Born 25 January 1759, Alloway, Scotland.
Died 21 July 1796.
University Link: Memorialised
Occupation categories: civil servants; poets
NNAF Reference: GB/NNAF/P163100
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Record last updated: 4th Jul 2008

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  • Memorialised


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