Poignant letter from 'Mrs Robert Burns' donated to NLS

Signature of Jean Burns on letter
Jean Burns (Armour) letter, 1804.
Larger letter image

A rare letter from the widow of Robert Burns was donated yesterday to the National Library of Scotland.

The letter was written in 1804 in Dumfries and gives a glimpse into the life of Jean Armour, who married the poet in 1788.

Eight years after his death, she tells an old family friend about her children and their opportunities, and of sons who had died. Youngest son Maxwell, born on the day of Burns's funeral, lived only until he was two years and nine months old.

Woman hold a page of a letter
Dr Groce with the letter.

Burns enthusiast Dr Nancy Groce of the Library of Congress discovered the letter in a junk store in New York's Greenwich Village. She bought it for $75. Having met NLS staff at a Burns symposium she hosted last year, she has generously donated the letter to the Library's collections.

Dr Groce hopes that it will 'lead to further research into Jean Armour Burns, her life and times, and her contributions'.

She made her donation to the American Associates of the National Library of Scotland, which has helped to raise the profile of our network of supporters in the USA.

26 January 2010

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