Friend of BURNS ILLUSTRATED author Robert Hay
Interviewed by Frank R. Shaw, FSA SCOT
Dawsonville, GA 30534 email:
Pictures of Robert Carnie provided by Andrew
Carnie, his son
This is the first time I have conducted an interview with someone other that
the author of the book being reviewed. Since the untimely death of Robert
Hay Carnie, I decided to ask a few questions of the author’s dear friend,
Jim Osborne, Proprietor of The Scot Shoppe in Calgary, Canada. I have been
enthralled with the book, BURNS ILLUSTRATED,
A Short Study of Selected Illustrations of the Poems and
Songs of Robert Burns covering the years 1795 – 1925.
Q: How long did you know your good friend Robert Hay
Carnie? Tell us about your relationship as much as you are comfortable doing
A: I knew Bob for over 20 years. We joined the Calgary
Burns Club at the same time; we both had an interest in Burns (Scottish
Literature in general) and old prints. When Bob gave a presentation, he held
his audience with a fascination. A true teacher and scholar.
Q: Did he ever discuss with you the reasons he wanted to
write this particular book on Burns?
A: Not with me in particular but the Burns Club 25th
anniversary was approaching and seemed a good time to publish the results of
many years of loving research.
Q: How long, in your estimation, did it take the author
to complete the book from beginning to end, including the travel involved?
A: I had to ask his wife Jean for help on this one. Over
30 years including ongoing research.
Q: Why does the book cost so much money? Was it the many
color pictures? Do you think the price of the book alone has prohibited many
Burnsians from purchasing the book?
A: If anyone knew Bob, he didn’t do thing by half
measure. The cost of the book reflects the costly photography of the
illustrations, it was printed on acid free paper, beautifully bound in a
presentation box and of course the limited edition print of J.A. Christies
print of Tam O Shanter. To some he cost may have been a factor, but as Bob
would have put it in his Dundee tongue, “I think it’s a bargain.” We have
about 40 copies left and everyone who has bought a book has been delighted
with it. I have to agree with you Frank, it is a must for every Burns
Q: How has the book been received by the Burns Community
as a whole?
A: The book was received very well. We sent books to
Burns Clubs, individuals and Universities.
Q: What part did the Calgary Burns Club play in
publishing this book? The author mentions it was the 25th
anniversary Project of the club. What are some of the clubs other projects
that you feel the Burns Community world-wide would be interested in knowing
about? What part did Grant MacEwan play in this study of Burns?
A: The Calgary Burns Club funded the project. When it was
proposed by Bob, the Club members were unanimous that it would be perfect
for the anniversary. Other projects are a facsimile of the Kilmarnock
edition in 1986 and again it was done on Bob’s expertise. This book was done
in hand made paper, unblocked, with a blue paper cover. It also came in a
presentation box. This book never went on sale generally as it was totally
subscribed to. The Club singers have made three Cds – Twas the Scots, Scots
Wha Hae and Bring on the Whisky and the Haggis. Each Cd has sold
successfully and in 2010 we were invited to sing at the Edinburgh Military
Q: Do you mind sharing some other club information with
our readers about the Calgary Burns Club? When founded? It’s size? How often
does the club meet? Are women allowed to be members?
A: The Calgary Burns Club was officially formed in 1975
although two or three years prior to that meetings were held in some of the
founding members homes. We have thirty seven regular members, on member for
each year of his life, twelve life members, and almost as many associate
members. The club meets every second Tuesday of the month upstairs in
Sandy’s room at the Rose and Crown pub in Calgary. The Calgary Burns Club
was formed as a Tarbolton Bachelors Club and has remained so.
Q: What is the best way for someone to purchase the book?
Please list your business address and all necessary information.
A: I was asked by the club if I would quartermaster for
the want of a better expression. The book can be purchased through the my
store, The Scottish Shoppe, 1206 – 17th Avenue, S.W. Calgary, AB
T2T 0B8. Phone (403) 264 6383. The cost is $175.00 plus $20.00 postage. It
can be paid for by Master Card or Visa. One can also pay by bank draft in
Canadian Funds. If paying by bank draft please make it payable to the
Calgary Burns Club as all proceeds from the book goes directly to the Club.
Q: I appreciate the
courtesies extended to me as to this interview. Is there a last word you
would like to leave with our readers?
was a lifetime of thoughts and dedication to Robert Burns who Robert
Carnie’s wife Jean can attest to. The book is dedicated to her.
For my wife JEAN
without whose help and support
this book would never have
Editor’s Final Note:
Watch these pages for more speeches by Robert Carnie. I have been able to
reach Dr. Carnie’s son and he has graciously provided me with additional
articles written by his Dad. You will find his work highly educational and
just as important, quite/very interesting. What does all of this mean?
Simply put, it is amazing the many people here in the United States, Canada,
Scotland and other places throughout the world that I meet through their
writings and they all, like Robert Hay Carnie, keep pointing us to one fact
- Robert Burns Lives! (FRS: 1.06.09)