Prose & SongCorrespondence & Poetry

Project Team

Principal Investigator / General Editor:

Professor Gerard Carruthers

I’m Gerard Carruthers, General Editor of the Oxford University Press edition of the Works of Robert Burns and Principal Investigator of the AHRC project, ‘Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century’. I am one of the co-editors of the multi-volume Correspondence of Robert Burns for the first time fully bringing together all of the letters to and from Burns; and I am also editor of the two volumes of Poetry (also including songs) for the edition. Currently, I am completing the Oxford Handbook of Robert Burns which complements the OUP Burns edition and I am co-editor of the Burns Chronicle (now being published by Edinburgh University Press) which has also begun to publish some of the research associated with the edition.

Co-Investigators / Editors:

Dr Rhona Brown

I’m Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Scottish Literature and the Periodical Press at the University of Glasgow, where my research specialism is in eighteenth-century Scots language poetry and early Scottish newspapers and magazines. I’m currently heavily involved in editing eighteenth-century Scottish texts. On the ‘Editing Robert Burns for the Twenty-First Century Project’, I’m co-Editor of Burns’s correspondence and Co-Investigator of the AHRC-funded project. I’m also part of the team for the AHRC-funded ‘Works of Allan Ramsay’ project (PI Murray Pittock), where I am Editor of Ramsay’s Poems and co-Editor (with Craig Lamont) of Ramsay’s Prose. I’m currently an Associate Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies. I grew up in Ayrshire, and Burns was a real feature of my family life growing up. My interest in Burns only grew when I read the varied scholarship on his work, and Burns is now central to my research. A highlight in editing the letters so far has been working on Burns’s famous autobiographical letter to John Moore of August 1787: in this letter, we have some complex manuscript and textual issues to deal with, but the letter is also iconic, given that here, Burns tells the story of his early life and motivations in his own words.

Professor Nigel Leask

Having spent a good decade or so working on Burns for my 2010 book Burns and Pastoral and the Oxford edition of Commonplace Books, Tour Journals and Miscellaneous Prose, it’s been a pleasure to get back to editing the Bard’s correspondence. I’ve completed my first tranche of 80 letters (Jan-July 1789), amply supported by the labours of Carol Baranuik and Craig Lamont. One highlight has been Burns’ correspondence with Frances Dunlop, especially the challenge of making sense of her often illegible hand and unpunctuated sentences. It’s such an unlikely correspondence really, between the young farmer poet, basking in his well-deserved fame, and the candid, sometimes adulatory, sometimes scolding, upper-class widow Dunlop. Another highlight has been Burns’s letters to the London newspapers, which track his fast-changing political views in the tense ideological climate of the year of the Fall of the Bastille. Working so closely with the text of these letters has made me think again about many aspects of Burns’s short but extraordinary career, and marvel at his skill as a letter writer as well as a poet.

Dr Pauline Mackay

In 2013 I was apponted as  Lecturer in Robert Burns Studies following work as a Research Associate on several of CRBS’s major projects: ‘The Global Burns Network’; ‘Robert Burns: Inventing Tradition and Securing Memory, 1796-1909’; ‘The Correspondence of James Currie: Burns’s First Editor’ (as Co-Editor), and ‘Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century’. I am now Associate Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies, CI on this AHRC-funded project to edit Burns’s Correspondence and Poetry, and a Co-Editor working on the multi-volume edition of Burns’s correspondence. As a researcher with a keen eye on the controversial aspects of Burns’s life and work, previously suppressed poems, songs and letters, and the way in which these emerge gradually across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I’m particularly enthused by the bard’s correspondence with Agnes McLehose (or ‘Clarinda’) and any letter that helps me understand Burns’s proclivity for bawdy and satirical verse! I’m also working with the General Editor to oversee the development of two significant digital outputs due to be launched at the end of the project: a ‘Database of Burns Manuscripts’ and ‘The Burns Letter-Writing Trail’.

Dr Ronnie Young

Like many Scots, I first became acquainted with Burns in childhood. One of the few books of note in the family home was an early 20th-century reissue of the Kilmarnock edition that once belonged to my grandfather, and Burns was commemorated in my hometown of Falkirk for his tour stopover while visiting nearby Carron Iron Works. However, despite occassional encounters with Burns’s work at University, it wasn’t until I undertook postgraduate research that I began to appreciate his social significance and intellectual heft, particularly the way in which Burns’s works engaged the philosophical thought of the Scottish Enlightenment. My first published article looked at the ways in which Burns’s position as poet was shaped by a wider set of Enlightenment discourses on genius. I recently set up the Burns Paper Database as an online resource which surveys the manuscripts of Burns held by partners in Burns Scotland and I’m absolutely thrilled to have started co-editing the correspondence of Burns as part of the Centre for Robert Burn Studies’ new edition for OUP. As a Lecturer in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, I helped set up online classes on Burns, including our Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) ‘Poems, Songs and Legacy’ with FutureLearn and our longer 10-week distance-taught course, and I also introduce learners from across the world to the work of Burns in both our study abroad programme for US students and our summer school for students from China.


Research Associates:

Dr Carol Baraniuk

I have been aware of Burns since my childhood. I was born in Belfast where the Linen Hall Library houses a magnificent collection of his works and of Burnsiana, and my great-grandmother was famous within our family circle for her recitations of Burns’s poems. My academic interest in the poet developed during my PhD research at the University of Glasgow, when I examined his influence on a circle of Ulster bards who wrote Scots vernacular verse and employed traditional Scots stanza forms. At present, my work for the project Editing Robert Burns for the Twenty-First Century mainly involves researching and transcribing Burns’s correspondence from manuscript and early printed sources. I have also assembled notes to support correspondence annotation. I’m particularly interested in Burns biography so it has been fascinating to study his letters at close quarters. The letters, whether private or written in the course of business and publication transactions, offer insights into his complex personality, revealing how he presented himself to a wide range of correspondents from many different walks of life. I have essays on Burns and his twentieth and twenty-first century biographers, one co-authored with Gerard Carruthers, forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Robert Burns. I have also written for the Burns Chronicle about the Burns collector Andrew Gibson who contributed hundreds of items for display at the 1896 Burns Exhibition in Glasgow. I’m delighted to be a member of the Burns C21 team.

Dr Jim Caudle

In working with the ‘Editing Robert Burns’s Correspondence & Poetry’ team, my concern has been to do more than simply provide as accurate a diplomatic transcription as I can — reflecting all composition stages in the manuscript —  though that remains the core mission, along with recording the various appearances of these letters in landmark editions. I was trained for three years in the tradition of documentary editing as a Warnock Fellow, and latterly worked for sixteen years as the Associate Editor at the Yale Boswell Editions. In many ‘literary’ editions of Burns letters, the editor’s work is limited to purely literary allusions, and those mainly to canonical authors. By contrast, in a documentary edition, the focus is also on identifying people and places in the past, and quotations from less-well-known texts. I am proud of my work in uncovering previously unidentified or misidentified ‘faces in the crowd’. I am also thrilled to have identified places and textual allusions not previously explained. Burns’s circle is very fond of obscure quotations, and the team and I have uncovered a wealth of new information on his friends’ and his reading; that work has fuelled my research project on Burns’s private library. With the poems editing, my main interest is in the dubia and spuria, the world of ‘maybe by’ and ‘not by’ surrounding the secure core of the Burns canon.

Dr Craig Lamont

As a Research Associate on the project, my work varies from day to day. Most of the time I am locating and transcribing Burns manuscripts which are then organised and stored for the editors on the project to annotate and edit accordingly. I will be editing some letters for the second (of three) volumes, and I also contribute to project events. My research specialism is in eighteenth-century literature and memory studies, so working on the correspondence of Burns has been a fascinating insight to the world of Scotland’s most renowned poet in this period. I have helped produce documentary films on Forgery and Correspondence, with more video features planned for the future.


Project Assistant:

Dr Moira Hansen

My role in the project team is to provide administrative and logistical support for the Editors and Research Associates. Whether it’s sourcing and securing digital images of manuscripts, coordinating the organisation of symposia and other events, or making travel arrangements for research trips or conference attendance, it’s my job to make sure the team have what they need when they need it. Beyond this role, I work on my own research interests in Burns’s physical and mental health, his friendship with Frances Dunlop, and on wider literary and medical culture in the late 18th century, as well as contributing to teaching on the FutureLearn course ‘Robert Burns: poems, songs, legacy’ and the longer ‘Robert Burns Online’ course. I am also Reviews Editor of the Burns Chronicle and have published various articles and chapters on aspects of Burns’s life relating to my research.