This is the "Rapid Burns Reference: Writings, Life, Places" page of the "Robert Burns & 18th Century Scotland" guide.
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Robert Burns & 18th Century Scotland  

A rapid reference guide to online and other sources about Robert Burns
Last Updated: Nov 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Rapid Burns Reference: Writings, Life, Places Print Page

What Burns Wrote

There are hundreds of editions of Burns's poems, that vary in completeness and accuracy.  The standard scholarly edition remains James Kinsley, ed., The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), though this will soon be superseded by a new multi-volume complete works, the Oxford Edition of Robert Burns.  For reference, many people use Kinsley's one-volume Oxford Standard Authors edition (1971), which numbers the poems as in his 3-volume version, or James A. Mackay's one-volume edition (Ayr: Alloway Publishing, 1986). The most convenient on-line access to Burns's poems is:

  • Poems and Songs
    The words for all Burns’s poems and songs are available (with audiofiles and brief commentary) from BBC Scotland

Where Did Burns Say That?

Most people search for Burns quotations on-line, but the modern concordance includes entries for some of the major variants in Burns quotations, not just for one version:

James A. Mackay, comp., Burns, A-Z: the Complete Word-Finder (Dumfries: James A. Mackay, 1990): PR4345 .M32 1990


Robert Burns was a great letter-writer. The standard print edition is edited by G. Ross Roy, The Letters of Robert Burns, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985). The on-line editions currently available vary in completeness and in the sources from which they draw: see e.g.

Quick Background Information: Works, People, Places

For short entries on Burns’s individual works, friends, and places, see the earlier edition of Maurice Lindsay's Burns Encyclopaedia, linked below. Note: the new 4th edition of the Burns Encyclopaedia, ed. David Purdie, Kirsteen McCue, and Gerard Carruthers (2014) is only available in print format.  There are links on later pages of this guide to Burns places and biographical sources. 


Robert Burns

From a crayon drawing of Robert Burns, by Archibald Skirving (1749-1819)


If you have already checked the on-line Burns Encyclopedia (see adjacent box), or other relevant sources in this guide, and you have not found the answer you need, then contact one of the following:


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