January 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Lost Robert Burns Manuscripts and Letters Found


Just in time for this year's Burns Night celebrations, a Scottish researcher has uncovered two lost manuscripts by the famous poet, along with several letters between Burns and his friends. The researcher, Chris Rollie, received a call from an old friend alerting him to an exciting find within her copy of the "Extra Illustrated" W. Scott Douglas edition of The Works of Robert Burns (1877-79). These particular copies had been owned by Burns' publisher Walter Paterson. Tucked inside the volumes were a handwritten manuscript of the Burns song "Phillis the Fair," and a draft of the poem "Ode to a Woodlark." 

In addition to the manuscripts, several letters were uncovered.  The highlight was a letter from "Clarinda," the pen name of Agnes McLehose, Burns' lover.  The letter, which is addressed to Burns' physician several months after his death in 1796, tenderly requests the return of her intimate letters to the poet. A second letter from Clarinda was also revealed, containing a poetic response to Burns' poem "On Sensibility."

Rollie presented the findings last week at a Burns conference in Glasgow.

The manuscripts have already been sold to a private collector. The name of the individual who purchased the material was not revealed.

More about the find can be read on The Guardian.