Robert Burns

Portrait of Robert Burns on title page

An illustration showing Robert Burns's portrait from around 1791.


The illustration includes a reference to 'The whistle', a poem Burns wrote to celebrate a drinking contest held at Friars' Carse, Robert Riddell's home. The winner of the contest was the last man able to blow the whistle, and Burns was invited to record the event in verse.

Tam O' Shanter

Possibly the most fruitful of Burns's meetings at Friars' Carse was his introduction to the antiquary Francis Grose.

Burns suggested that Grose include Alloway Kirk in his book of antiquities and Grose agreed — providing Burns wrote an accompanying poem. Burns rose to the challenge and 'Tam O' Shanter' was the result.


This volume featured in the Robert Burns's Glenriddell Manuscripts display at the National Library of Scotland from 23 January to 30 March 2014.


Speak me