by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA
My good friend Alastair
McIntyre, creator of the
www.electricscotland web site, is also my editor and “boss”. I am prone
to listen when he sends something to me since he makes Robert Burns Lives!
possible and available to interested Burns readers.
Alastair sent me an email on
04 October 2012 saying, “Hi Frank…I came across this article…”
Note: Picture to the right is:
Stained glass panel, Bute Hall, University of Glasgow (Courtesy
University of Glasgow)
is not really a man of few words as his email might depict, and Electric
Scotland testifies to that fact. I enjoyed this article so much that I
contacted a friend in Scotland to see if there was additional information
available on this project and learned a bit more which I am sharing below.
For now it is a pleasure to
ask each of you to click on the URL above to discover that a new world
regarding Robert Burns is on the horizon. The BBC article has to do with
digitizing all of the Robert Burns manuscripts in Scotland. This greatly
anticipated collection will be housed at the Centre for Robert Burns Studies
at the University of Glasgow.
Phase 1 of this project will
be done over the next 18 months or so. The database will provide a research
resource for use by all of the Burns Scotland partners. It will have
particular application for the University of Glasgow in terms of the
database providing research material for the new Oxford University Press
edition of Robert Burns based at Glasgow. The project calls for
establishing, by chromatography, an ink signature for Burns, as well as for
Antique Smith and other Burns forgers. In time they hope to extend the
database both internationally and to encompass material in private hands.
The following quote is from
the BBC article mentioned above:
“Burns Scotland is a
partnership agreement between the university, the National Library of
Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, Glasgow Life, the National
Museums of Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Museums, East Ayrshire Museums
and South Ayrshire Museums.” I point this out for a specific reason - no
where do I see the Burns Birthplace Museum mentioned.
Of all entities working
together on this project, I am compelled to say a word about the Burns
Birthplace Museum. Susan and I had the privilege of visiting the museum with
Kenneth Simpson in January of 2011. We were allowed to tour the vault,
thanks to Ken, and see the wonderful collection they have there and on
display throughout the building. It is a special place to me and a place
that cries out for one to find a corner to read and study Burns. Of all the
places you might visit in Scotland, and there are many important ones, do
not make the mistake of not going to the Burns Birthplace Museum. They are a
leading partner in Burns Scotland and you owe it to yourself to visit this
magnificent structure. It is a leader among facilities that possess Burns
manuscripts, and it will make you proud of Burns and proud of Scotland! How
the museum came to be left off the list by BBC is a mystery to me.
In addition, I was told by my
Scottish friend that Burns’ manuscripts from outside Scotland will be added
to the project in the future. This thrills me because it will perhaps one
day allow the G. Ross Roy Collection of manuscripts at the University of
South Carolina to become a part of this project. I might add that the Roy
collection is not a dormant one and continues to add Burns manuscripts and
letters from time to time and, who knows, might be doing so as I write this.
Maybe the few manuscripts Susan and I have, along with some bits and pieces
of others will be included. It would be exciting to share our wee treasure
with fellow Burnsians.
As a postscript, I also
leaned that Nigel Leask of the University of Glasgow will complete his prose
volume soon and will make its way to press in the near future. You may also
look for the flier regarding Glasgow’s January Burns Conference being
released at the “Kilmarnock Edition” symposium. By the way, I am told it may
feature an illustration of the Burns cottage in Atlanta. You will soon be
able to check out the “Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century” online
site for the letters of James Currie, as well as new songs recorded by
From the collection of Susan & Frank Shaw,
Autograph Manuscript Poem by Burns
"Jessie - A Scots Song"
I have taken a big interest
in the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow and, for
the last two years, have worked with a small group of other like-minded
individuals on the centre’s business board. We meet again in January 2013
prior to the Centre for Burns Studies annual Burns Conference. I am proud to
be associated with the centre and the wonderful and talented scholars who
make projects like this one possible. This is the latest I have on the
project and until next time, enjoy a great Burns Supper Season.