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The Burns Encyclopedia
Home | Introduction | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Kilmarnock

A town in Ayrshire about 16 miles from Ayr, created a Burgh of Barony under the Boyd family in 1591. In Burns's day, it had a population of almost 3,000, and was mainly a market town, although it was known for its 'Kilmarnock Cowls'. It has since become industrial, carpets, agricultural machinery and whisky being the among its wares. It was the birthplace of poet and essayist Alexander Smith, in 1830.

It was at Kilmarnock, from the press of John Wilson — his premises are marked by a plague — that Burns's Poems were first published on 31st July 1786. Stitched in a blue-grey cover, the volume cost three shillings. A perfect copy today fetches over £2,000.

Burns described the circumstances preceding his decision to publish, in his Autobiographical Letter: 'I weighed my productions as impartially as in my power; I thought they had merit; and 'twas a delicious idea that I would be called a clever fellow, even though it should never reach my ears a poor Negro-driver, or perhaps a victim to that inhospitable clime gone to the world of Spirits. I can truly say that pauvre Inconnu as I then was, I had pretty nearly as high an idea of myself and my works as I have at the moment. It is ever my opinion that the great, unhappy mistakes and blunders, both in a rational and religious point of view, of which we see thousands daily guilty, are owing to their ignorance, or mistaken notions of themselves. To know myself had been all along my constant study. I weighed myself alone; I balanced myself with others; I watched every means of information how much ground I occupied both as a Man and as a Poet: I studied assiduously Nature's DESIGN where she seem'd to have intended the various LIGHTS and SHADES in my character. I was pretty sure my poems would meet with some applause; but at the worst, the roar of the Atlantic would deafen the voice of Censure, and the novelty of west-Indian scenes make me forget Neglect.

'I threw off 600 copies, of which I had got subscriptions for about 350. My vanity was highly gratified by the reception I met with from the Publick; besides pocketing, all expences deducted near £20'.

Buy the Burns Encyclopedia online
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Robert Burns Store

NEW!! robert burns store View our exclusive range of distinctive Robert Burns related products. Register with our Shopping Club for further offers and unique member offers.Click here...


Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
Search our huge CD and music store for any Burns-related phrase!
Hint: Type "lang syne" or "peck maut" etc. into the Search box there for all artists, titles, descriptions or track listings with the words entered.
Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...