Manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland

This list focuses on some of the highlights of the National Library of Scotland's collection of manuscripts principally of — or relating to — Robert Burns. It is not a comprehensive listing of all the manuscripts in the Library written by the poet, but it does provide an introduction to all the major collections that contain the poet's writings. For some, especially in the case of the first of the two Glenriddell Manuscripts (MS 86), there is considerable detail of what the manuscript contains. For each of the major collections an overview is provided, followed by an analysis of some of the more interesting features within it.

The list does not cover exhaustively those manuscripts in the collection which might be termed 'Burnsiana' — letters and writings of other members of the poet's family or of his descendants, or the work of those involved in creating, establishing and continuing what may be termed 'the legacy' of Burns. However, in some cases — most notably that of the Earnock Manuscripts — we have considered the writing and work of those involved in furthering the poet's reputation after his death. The Earnock Manuscripts have been included — while others of the same sort have been omitted — simply because of their importance in the National Library's collection, and as a sample of what the Burns enthusiasts were able to produce in the immediate aftermath of his death.

Important collections