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Robert Burns Lives!
A Million Reasons Robert Burns Will Never Die!

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA

It is a pleasure to pass along an announcement that will thrill the heart of every Burnsian around the world. Our thanks go to Gerry Carruthers and Eleanor Cowie of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies for making this information available to our Robert Burns Lives! web site.

Burns is once again being recognized by the Scottish Government in an exciting and tangible way. On a recent trip to Scotland I was fortunate to spend a day with Ken Simpson at the new Robert Burns Museum in Alloway, a wonderful tribute provided in part by monies from the government. The leadership is finally putting forth funds to secure Burns a place in modern history whereas in the past such tributes, much smaller in nature than either of these two programs, was left to various clubs, federations, or individuals to secure capital to honor the poet.

While the worldwide status of Burns has slowed in recent years, there is no reason not to assume Burns will now be able to take his place among the best poets and writers in the world because of these two actions - one in mortar and stone, the other in books and scholarship. This global recognition is long overdue for Scotland’s Bard, and we say, “Move over Wordsworth and Keats, your Scottish cousin is knocking at the door”. Dr. Gerry Carruthers and his team of literary experts will see that the door is opened wide for him. I am acquainted with most of the people involved and therefore know this sum of money could not be in better hands to see the project through.

I can’t recall this much excitement about Burns. There is wide anticipation for these funds to be put to work as soon as possible by this band of scholars so we, the people, can hold in our hands and our hearts the fruits of their labors. The results of the project will make Burns better understood and more acceptable to those who until now have turned away from him. For the first time we will have something besides old Scot words seldom understood or pronounced correctly to reach out globally to one and all – particularly the young men and women who will become Burnsians. The future of Burns has never been brighter! (FRS: 2.24.11)

A Million Reasons Robert Burns Will Never Die!

The University of Glasgow has received £1million from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to produce the first complete scholarly edition of the works of Robert Burns, it was announced today. (Sunday, Feb 20th)

The AHRC award, granted to the University’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies, will see the publication of six volumes over the next eight years including The Oxford Handbook to Robert Burns and The Collected Prose of Robert Burns, with another six to follow in the next decade.

The project, entitled Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century, will involve a team of five literary scholars at Glasgow led by Dr Gerry Carruthers, a leading international Burns expert.

The team comprises Regius and Bradley Professors of English Literature Nigel Leask and Murray Pittock, Professor Jeremy Smith, and Burns song scholar and senior lecturer Dr Kirsteen McCue. The University’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies is the only one of its kind in the world.

The ARHC award signifies a change in attitude towards Burns among the scholarly community. According to academics, Burns Studies is now “a growing area of study after years of neglect”.

Dr Carruthers, who will edit The Oxford Handbook to Robert Burns, a collection of 35 critical and scholarly essays arising in part from the findings of the edition, said: “The AHRC funding along with the OUP contract marks a seismic shift in Burns Studies. We now have the platform to assert Burns’s status as a major Romantic-period artist alongside the likes of William Wordsworth and John Keats.”

The award follows the Oxford University Press contract secured by the University in 2009 to produce the work.

The Glasgow-OUP edition will feature the Bard’s prose works, his letters, poems, songs and other miscellaneous writing.

An online exhibition space will also be created as part of the project, where members of the public and researchers can discuss various aspects of the research as well as share newly discovered materials.

Two new editions of Burns’ prose works and his songs for James Johnson’s entitled The Scots Musical Museum and George Thomson’s Original Scottish Airs will be published.

Leading this work will be Dr McCue and Prof Pittock, Head of the College of Arts.

Dr McCue said: “Presenting Burns's songs as they appeared in the Scots Musical Museum and then in Thomson's Original Scottish Airs is unique in that our edition will bring together Burns's lyrics and full original musical sources for the first time.

“This contextualisation is crucial to our understanding, not just of Burns's lyrical prowess but his major work as a collector and amender of traditional songs.”

Alongside these editions, newly commissioned performances will be made produced and uploaded online to support the edition aurally.

Prof Leask will develop the Prose edition, The Collected Prose of Robert Burns. It is hoped that the first volume will be ready for publishing in Autumn 2012.

“This volume gathers together Burns’s Commonplace Books, tour journals, prefaces, public correspondences and other short prose works for the first time in a fully edited collection. They offer a crucial insight into his meteoric poetic development as well as illuminating his social and cultural context in 18th century Scotland,” said Prof Leask.

He added: “The Commonplace Books are a collection of three manuscript volumes which contain notes and observations from his reading and early drafts of his poems and songs. They are basically the laboratory from where his poetry emerged. They show his creative process at work.”

Part of the AHRC money will fund two Post Doc researchers as well as support two, three year PhD students.

The award will support a number of public events hosted by the Centre for Robert Burns Studies over the next five years.

These are banners depicting stained glass windows at the university.

Notes to Editors;

For more information on the Centre for Robert Burns Studies please see:

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) supports research that furthers public understanding of human culture and creativity. For more information please see:

For more media information please contact Eleanor Cowie, Media Relations Officer at the University of Glasgow, on 0141 330 3683 or

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