Robert Burns Fact File: Lifespan: 1759 – 1796 *** Full Name: Robert Burns *** Nickname: Robbie Burns, Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s favorite son, the Ploughman Poet, Robden of Solway Firth, the Bard of Ayrshire or in Scotland simply as The Bard *** Occupation: Scottish Poet and Lyricist *** Date of Birth: Robert Burns was born on January 25th 1759 *** Place of Birth: Robert Burns was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland *** Family background: His father was William Burns and his mother was Agnes Broun. His father was a tenant farmer self-taught *** Early life and childhood: He grew up with six siblings in a house built by his father and he lived there until the Easter of 1766. The family were not wealthy by any means, in fact they lived in hardship and poverty and having worked manually on the family farm from an early age, his young bones suffered under the strain and he developed a permanent stoop and a severely weakened constitution *** Education: Robert Burns had no real formal education, education cost money and they was never any spare money. Taught by their father to read and write, arithmetic, history and geography were also learned. Later John Murdoch taught him French, Latin and mathematics to himself and his brother Gilbert at his “adventure school”. He briefly attend Dalrymple Parish School before having to return to the farm for the harvest and in 1775 during the summer he was sent to a tutor at Kirkoswald to finish his education ***
Robert Burns Fact 1: Robert Burns was born on January 25th 1759 and during the 18th century period in history when France was in the midst of a terrible and bloody Revolution under the Reign of Terror of Maximilien Robespierre.
Robert Burns Fact 2: In 1774 during the harvest period he had help from Nelly Kilpatrick who would be his inspiration for his first poem “O, Once I Lov’d A Bonnie Lass” and later, while away completing his education he met Peggy Thompson for who he wrote “Now Westlin’ Winds” and “I Dream’d I Lay”.
Robert Burns Fact 3: The family did not prosper no matter how many times the moved from one farm to the next. In 1784 Robert’s father William died and the family were on a farm at Lochlea not far from Tarbolton and they remained there slowly mixing in with the local community.
Robert Burns Fact 4: At the age of twenty two, on July 4th 1781 Robert was initiated into the masonic Lodge of St David in Tarbolton.
Robert Burns Fact 5: Robert would have his first child by his mother’s servant Elizabeth Paton. At the same time he was developing a relationship with Jean Armour who bore him twins shortly thereafter.
Robert Burns Fact 6: Her father was most distraught and she was sent away to live with an uncle until the matter was settled and the couple were married. Altogether they had nine children but sadly only three survived through infancy.
Robert Burns Fact 7: Struggling to make a living and support his family he took a job that would see him travel to Jamaica to become a bookkeeper.
Robert Burns Fact 8: Ever the philanderer he fell in love with a women he met at church, Mary Campbell with whom he planned to take with him to Jamaica, unfortunately she had to travel with her father to her sick brother who had contracted typhus. While nursing him, he died but she had also contracted the deadly illness and died also.
Robert Burns Fact 9: In preparation for booking his passage to Jamaica he needed money to do so and his friend Gavin Hamilton suggested he perhaps sell a few of his poems to raise the money. He made enquiries with a printer in Kilmarnock who agreed to publish his work as a volume that included much of finest writing and the success was immediate and went country wide.
Robert Burns Fact 10: He decided to postpone his trip and received a letter from a Dr Blacklock inviting him to publish a second edition. He also suggested a visit to Edinburgh where he resided and he set out without a second thought.
Robert Burns Fact 11: The second edition was published and earned him four hundred pounds. He remained in Edinburgh and also cultivated friendships that would last a lifetime.
Robert Burns Fact 12: Again he began dalliances with various women but it all gave him material for his work.
Robert Burns Fact 13: In 1788 he returned home and took up his relationship with Jean Amour again and leased a farm in Dumfriesshire while at the same time he took up training as an exciseman in case the farming failed. He gave up the farm and moved to Dumfries.
Robert Burns Fact 14: He was asked to write lyrics for The Melodies of Scotland for which he contributed in excess of one hundred songs.
Robert Burns Fact 15: Another passion of his would be in preserving Scottish folk songs, occasionally revising them and maybe adapting them, one such collection was The Merry Muses of Caledonia.
Robert Burns Fact 16: During this period in his life the French Revolution was raging and he often times spoke too sympathetically of their plight and the ever unpopular reforms being proposed at home. His views alienated his closest friends and he became rather bitter.
Robert Burns Fact 17: His political views were not appreciated by his employers either but by way of proving his loyalty to the Crown he enlisted with the Royal Dumfries Volunteers.
Robert Burns Fact 18: His health at this time was not the best, he began to age rather quickly and experienced bouts of depression.
Robert Burns Fact 19: Robert Burns died on July 21st 1796 aged thirty seven in Dumfries after the extraction of a tooth during the winter period. His body was laid to rest in St Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfrie.
Influence & Legacy a List of Works by Robert Burns: Auld Lang Syne *** To a Mouse *** A Man's a Man for A' That *** Ae Fond Kiss *** Scots Wha Hae *** Tam O'Shanter *** Halloween *** The Battle of Sherramuir ***