Robert Burns was born into a farming family in
on 25th January 1759.
In 1766 the family moved to Mount Oliphant Farm, not far from
received schooling, and it is thought that he first tried his hand at writing poetry when 15
In 1777 the family moved again, this time to Lochlea (sometimes
spelt as Lochlie) Farm, some four miles north-west of
By this time he was 18 years of age, and worked hard on the
farm. Burns became a freemason of St David's Lodge in nearby
Tarbolton in 1781.
He lodged with a relative in
for a while in 1781/82 while
working as a flax dresser.
His father died in 1784, and the family then moved just three miles
south-east to Mossgiel Farm, just outside
In 1784 and 1785 Burns wrote some of his most memorable poems, like
'To a Mouse'. But there were problems at Mossgiel Farm. It was hard
work ploughing the land, and in the end the land was not productive.
After getting Jean Armour pregnant, Burns considered emigrating as
Jean's father was opposed to marriage between the two. Under the
advice of local lawyer, Gavin Hamilton, Burns then planned to
finance his trip to Jamaica by publishing some of his poems. The
resultant book of poems - 'Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect' -
printed in 1786 by John Wilson in
and now known as the 'Kilmarnock edition' - sold out its print-run
of 612 books within a month, causing Burns to reconsider his plans
With this success Burns visited
moved briefly in high social circles, and became even more famous.
In 1787 the 'Edinburgh edition' of his book was printed. It included
favourites like, 'To a Haggis'. In that same year a 'Dublin edition'
was printed. In 1787 Burns embarked on a tour of Scotland, and if
you look you'll probably see that most of the plaques on buildings
in which he spent just one night bear this year.
In 1788 he returned to
married Jean Armour, and they lived in one small room, which can be
seen to this day. Later that year they moved to Ellisland Farm, near
where Burns tried to work the land. But the ground was poor, and
hard back-breaking toil made little difference to its productivity.
It was at Ellisland that Burns wrote 'Auld Lang Syne'.
In 1788 an 'American edition' of Burns' poems was printed.
In 1791 he moved to
worked for the Excise, and lived initially in what is now Bank
Street. He moved in 1793 to what is now Burns Street.
on 21st July 1796, Robert Burns died, at the age of just 37 years.
His house in Burns Street is now open to the public, and visitors
can stand in the tiny room in which he died. When one is alone in
that room it is a most sobering experience.
The Burns Mausoleum is in the grounds of St Michael's Churchyard in
[My apologies for any errors and glaring omissions in the above.
It's a most disrespectful thing to say of someone's life, but that
of Robert Burns went something like that.]