Robert Burns

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the work of the man who, in his lifetime, was called The Caledonian Bard and whose fame and influence was to spread around the world. Burns (1759-1796) was born in Ayrshire and his work as a tenant farmer earned him the label The Ploughman Poet, yet it was the quality of his verse that helped his reputation endure and grow. His work inspired other Romantic poets and his personal story and ideas combined with that, giving his poems a broad strength and appeal - sung by revolutionaries and on Mao’s Long March, as well as on New Year’s Eve and at Burns Suppers.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Robert Crawford No other episodes
    Professor of Modern Scottish Literature and Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Poetry at the University of St Andrews
  • Fiona Stafford 2 episodes
    Professor of English at the University of Oxford
  • Murray Pittock 6 episodes
    Bradley Professor of English Literature and Pro Vice Principal at the University of Glasgow

Reading list

  • Robert Burns: The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns
    Robert Burns (ed. James Kinsley) (Oxford University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • The Edinburgh Companion to Robert Burns
    Gerard Carruthers (ed.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Robert Burns
    Gerard Carruthers (Northcote House Publishers, 2007) Google Books →
  • The Bard: Robert Burns, A Biography
    Robert Crawford (Jonathan Cape, 2009) Google Books →
  • Robert Burns and Cultural Authority
    Robert Crawford (ed.) (University of Iowa Press, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Best Laid Schemes: Selected Poetry and Prose of Robert Burns
    Robert Crawford and Christopher MacLachlan (ed.) (Polygon, 2009)
  • Robert Burns and Pastoral: Poetry and Improvement in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland
    Nigel Leask (Oxford University Press, 2015) Google Books →
  • The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns: Volume I: Commonplace Books, Tour Journals and Miscellaneous Prose
    Nigel Leask (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2014)
  • The Burns Supper: A Concise History
    Clark McGinn (Luath Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • Burns the Radical: Politics and Poetry in Late Eighteenth-century Scotland
    Liam McIlvanney (Tuckwell Press, 2002)
  • The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns: Volumes II and III: The Scots Musical Museum
    Murray Pittock (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • Robert Burns in Global Culture
    Murray Pittock (ed.) (Bucknell University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Burns and Other Poets
    David Sergeant and Fiona Stafford (eds.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Immortal Memory: Burns and the Scottish People
    Chris Whatley (John Donald, 2016) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m0009kkn

Episode page:

Auto-category: 821.6 (English poetry)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1786, Robert Burns had a collection of his verse published.