City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Rabbie Burns Blogs From the Grave


By edg - Posted on 03 January 2009

Robert Burns Blogs (Extract)

The original letters of Robert Burns dating from 1787 onwards are being given the blog treatment by the National Trust for Scotland. The conservation charity is giving Scotland's most famous wordsmith a new twist with tag clouds, user comments, index searches, and a calendar.

The letters - found at www.burnsletters.wordpress.com - reveal many sides to Burns and his character as he writes to friends, colleagues, literary magazines and other companions he encountered throughout his rich, colourful life.

"The great love poet
can seem cold in his correspondence with friend Robert Ainslie, but he
is then flowery in his love letters to Mrs Agnes McLehose - codename
‘Clarinda' - while a more factual and reflective side is seen in other
letters," said Trust Chairman Shonaig Macpherson

More than 90 letters will appear online on the dates they were originally written. Fresh content will be placed online regularly, until the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum opens in July 2010.

In his foreword to the site, Project Curator for the Robert Burns
Birthplace Museum David Hopes said: "Reading Burns in the prose of his
letters is a completely different experience from dipping into the
poetry which made him such an icon. His letters share the freshness and
variety of his poetry and musical lyrics, but reveal more of the man.

"Burns wrote to an astonishing variety of individuals from James
Cunninghame the 14th Earl of Glencairn and David Erskine the 11th Earl
of Buchan, to notable literary figures - Dr John Moore and Dr Thomas
Blacklock, to bosom companions such as Robert Ainslie.

"Burns also chooses the letter at this time as a vector for his
political opinions and to broadcast his work, writing to the editors of
newspapers of the time such as the Belfast News-Letter and the Gazeteer.

"The protracted correspondence with James Johnson, Mrs Dunlop of
Dunlop, Alexander Cunningham is always stylish and one could tell that
Burns enjoyed the challenge of writing on some of his favourite
subjects - politics, philosophy, music, and women - to people he
clearly respected.

"Burns evidently took great pride in letter writing which developed
studiedly over this period as he became perhaps more conscious of his
reputation as a published poet. The letters become more consciously
crafted and knowingly artful."

The Burns blog is the latest example of the Trust using social media and web2.0 to
increase Burns' appeal to a new generation. It joins the Trust's
Twitter project where people receive up
to three lines a day of Burns' poetry on mobile phones, laptops,
computers, iPhones and iPod Touch.

Burns Museum

The blog is part of the National Trust for Scotland's push to raise the last £4million needed to fully realise the £21million Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. The museum will be the largest project the National Trust for Scotland has ever undertaken.

"One of the aims of the new museum is to show every side to Burns and these letters are an early way of people seeing how complex a character he truly was," said Macpherson.