Robert Burns biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Robert Burns was born at Alloway, near Ayr, on January 25, 1759. His father William was a gardener to the Provost of Ayr. Robert was educated briefly at John Murdoch's school in Alloway and later in Ayr.
Family financial worries forced Burns to work as a farm labourer, and it was while thus occupied that he met his first love, Nelly Kirkpatrick. She inspired him to try his hand at poetry, a song entitled "O, once I lov'd a bonnie lass", set to the tune of a traditional reel.
Burns worked at a succession of labouring jobs, including flax dressing, and began writing poetry regularly. When his father died in 1784, Burns and his brother Gilbert rented a farm near Mauchline.
Burns spread his affections freely, and the next decade saw 8 illegitimate children born to him through 5 different women. One of these, Jean Armour, became Mrs. Burns in 1788.
The first published work of poetry by Robert Burns was "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" which saw the light of day on 31 July 1786. This collection of verse contained many of Burn's best works, including "To a Mouse", and "The Holy Fair".
The success of "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" convinced Burns to abandon plans to emigrate to Jamaica. Buoyed by his burgeoning reputation as an unschooled "ploughman poet", Burns moved to Edinburgh and became part of the thriving cultural scene there.
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