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Burns isn't just for January!

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History of Robert Burns
 


Robert burns was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, in 1759 to poor tenant farmers, William Burness and Agnes Broun. Robert Burns was the eldest brother to another six children. His early years were spent working with his father on the family farm, but although the family was poor, his father insisted that Robert and his younger brother Gilbert should have the best education they could afford. He employed a tutor and at the age of 15, Robert Burns wrote his first verses, 'My Handsome Nell', which were about his favourite pastimes at that time, women and drink.

Burns CottageIn 1784, when his father died, Robert and his brother became partners in the farm but Robert was more interested in his poetry and womanising. Through the latter, he became the father of several illegitimate children. This gave him notions of escaping to the far off lands of the West Indies. As he prepared to give up the farm and head for a warmer climate, leaving his 'troubles' behind, his first collection of poems was published. This was the well known 'Poems- Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect - Kilmarnock Edition'. It received much critical acclaim and this encouraged him to remain in Scotland. He became known in Edinburgh as 'The Ploughman Poet' and within a short period of time was a country-wide celebrity.

At this point Robert Burns married the mother of two of his twin children. Her name was Jean Armour. Although he was now famous, it did not bring in much of an income and Robert had to take up employment as an exciseman to make ends meet. He still continued to produce poetry and songs, the number totalling approximately 400 before he died of heart disease at the age of 37 on the very same day that his wife gave birth to a son, Maxwell. An amazing 10,000 people paid their respects at his funeral.

Every year on the anniversary of his birth, 25th January, thousands of people throughout the world pay homage to this great man by way of a 'Burns Supper'. The ritual was started by close friends of Burns a few years after his death as a tribute to his memory. The basic format for the evening has remained unchanged since that time and begins when the chairman invites the company to receive the haggis. There is also a recital of Burns' famous poem 'To A Haggis'.

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