Tradition’s Use of Burns: The Calendar Custom

  • Mary Ellen Brown


Perhaps the words were written facetiously and penned with ‘tongue in cheek’, but — nonetheless — Burns’ comment about himself, sent to Gavin Hamilton shortly after he arrived in Edinburgh in 1786 to arrange another edition of his poems, is remarkably prophetic:

For my own affairs, I am in a fair way of becoming as eminent as Thomas a Kempis or John Bunyan; and you may expect henceforth to see my birthday inserted among the wonderful events, in the Poor Robin’s and Aberdeen Almanacks, along with the black Monday, & the battle of Bothwel bridge.1


Head Table Compression Period Centenary Celebration Humble Origin True Patriot 
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Chapter 6 Tradition’s Use of Burns: The Calendar Custom

  1. 1.
    J. De Lancey Ferguson (ed.). The Letters of Robert Burns, 2 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931), 1: 55, no. 62.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This letter from Richmond is given in Robert Fitzhugh (ed.), Robert Burns, His Associates and Contemporaries ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1943 ), pp. 37–8.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    James Kinsley (ed.), The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, 3 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), 3: 1221.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Charles L. Brodie, ‘Greenock Burns Club: A Sketch of Its History’, Burns Chronicle (1927): 124–30.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Elizabeth Ewing, ‘The First “Burns Nicht” (Alloway) and the First Burns Club ( Greenock)’, Burns Chronicle (1948): 38–42.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    J. B. Morrison, ‘Greenock Burns Club’, Burns Chronicle (1893): 115–22.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    David Semple (ed.), The Poems and Songs and Correspondence of Robert Tannahill with Life and Notes ( Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1876 ), pp. 45–9.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Robert Brown, Paisley Burns Clubs 1805–1893 ( Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1893 ).Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Dumfries Burns Club Centenary Celebration’, Burns Chronicle (1921): 109–16.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    John Gibson Lockhart, Peter’s Letters to His Kinfolk, ed. William Ruddick ( Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1977 ), pp. 29–47.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    John McVie, The Burns Federation: A Bicentenary Review (Kilmarnock, 1959).Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    James Ballantine (comp. and ed.), Chronicle of the Hundredth Birthday of Robert Burns ( Edinburgh: A. Fullarton & Co., 1859 ), p. 430.Google Scholar
  13. 29.
    Edwin Muir, ‘The Burns Myth’, in William Montgomerie, ed. New Judgements: Robert Burns ( Glasgow: William Maclellan, 1947 ), p. 7.Google Scholar
  14. 30.
    F. Marian McNeill, The Silver Bough, 4 vols (Glasgow: William Maclellan, 1957–1961), 3: 142.Google Scholar
  15. 31.
    David Murison, ‘The Language of Burns’, Burns Chronicle (1950): 47.Google Scholar
  16. 32.
    See J. F. T. Thomson, ‘Suggested lines for organising a Burns Supper’, Burns Chronicle (1979): 31–2Google Scholar
  17. Hugh Douglas, Johnnie Walker’s Burns Supper Companion ( Ayr: Alloway Publishing, 1981 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mary Ellen Brown 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Ellen Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Edinburgh and BloomingtonUK

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