George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

The Kilmarnock Burns: acquired in 1964

In 1964, the National Library of Scotland received a copy of the first edition of the poems of Robert Burns.'Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect' was published in Kilmarnock in 1786, and is known as the 'Kilmarnock Burns'.

Disgusted with his position and prospects in Scotland, Burns had decided to publish a collected edition of his work to get the passage-money for emigration to Jamaica. Within a month, nearly all of the 612 copies printed were sold.

The first Edinburgh edition was published the following year. With 1,500 subscribers it proved even more popular than the Kilmarnock Burns. When the poet visited the capital in connection with the Edinburgh edition, he was warmly received by all the literary celebrities of the day.

This copy of the Kilmarnock Burns was presented to the Library, together with Burns manuscripts, by Mrs John Cowie. Pictured is first page of the poem 'To a Mouse' as it appears in this edition.

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