A Robert Burns expert has uncovered seven “lost” manuscripts and letters belonging to the Scottish poet which throw significant new light on his life and work.
The “extra special” documents are believed to be the most important recent discoveries relating to one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.
They were discovered by Chris Rollie, a researcher who specialises in Burns’ work, who will present his findings at the University of Glasgow Burns Conference today.
The documents include revealing correspondence, as well as handwritten manuscripts with Burns’ amendments marked in pencil. Mr Rollie was alerted by a chance phone call from a woman in 2010. She wanted him to see if six volumes of Burns’ work passed down by her family were valuable.
He said: “I realised very quickly that the material I was looking at was original and felt that some of it might be unpublished.”
The documents include handwritten manuscripts of the song Phillis the Fair and Ode to a Woodlark. There is also a letter from Burns to Robert Muir that was believed lost.
While some of the material had been published before, the original copies had been lost for 200 years.
The manuscripts had been sitting inside the Extra Illustrated W. Scott Douglas edition of The Works of Robert Burns, which belonged to Burns’ publisher William Paterson.