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Robert Burns Lives!
Volume 1 Chapter 23

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Atlanta, GA,

Burns Chronicle Index

Bill DawsonI met Bill Dawson in Columbia, South Carolina a couple of years ago while attending the 80th birthday celebration for the much loved and respected Robert Burns scholar, Ross Roy. Bill had come from Scotland for the same purpose. Later Susan and I had opportunity to spend some time with Bill and his lovely wife, Lesley, while attending the annual meeting of the Robert Burns Federation in Ayr, Scotland in September, 2005.  We have swapped dozens of emails, and I have found Bill to be quite knowledgeable about Robert Burns and other Scottish poets, including one I have only recently started collecting -  Hugh MacDiarmid.  I have enjoyed Bill’s company because he is an easy going fellow, a friendly man who has his head on his shoulders.  Bill has been a “Burns enthusiast” for over 37 years.

The Dawsons have two children, Paula and Clark, and have been blessed with two grandchildren, Max and Elliot, 10 and 3 respectively. Bill is a construction Project Manager and is employed by Tulloch, a major Scottish construction company out of Inverness. He is currently working on a project to build luxury lodges by the side of Loch Lomond.

Bill is someone who will go out of his way to be of help to anyone. He recently helped me plug a big hole in my collection of Burns Chronicles by sending me several issues that I had been searching for via the internet over the past few years. We worked out a swap/cash deal that would be the envy of any Wall Street broker! That is the type Burnsian Bill is, and we should be eternally grateful for something he has now done for all of us who fancy ourselves as students of Burns.

In an email this week, Bill wrote, “I revere all Burns haunts …” and mentioned that last weekend he had taken “a simple walk by the Nith…” which “was one of the best times I have had in years”. He also mentioned that he had recently visited Ellisland, Brow Well, and St. Michaels but that his favorite place is the Tarlbolton Bachelors Club, “especially if it is in the company of a few well versed  Burnsians for a night of sangs and clatter”.

Bill has compiled a book entitled Directory to The Articles and Features Published  in The Burns Chronicle 1892 - 2005. Others have had a go at this mammoth task in days past, but in baseball vernacular, this book is a homerun! I do not recall receiving a book about which I have become so excited. For those of us who enjoy reading the chronicles, this compilation will make The Burns Chronicles come alive. For those of us who write and prepare speeches, this book is a gold mine. No longer will one have to go to chronicle after chronicle looking for articles on a particular Burns subject.  In the past while researching an article for use in a paper or speech, I have struggled over and over with little or no success while roaming through countless Burns Chronicles. Bill has made that part of my research a lot easier.

The book is “categorized by topic to aid research into particular fields” and “subjects are grouped according to themes”.  Bill goes on to say that “there are minor variations in the layout of the listings; the logic of this is to assist the lay reader in the pursuit of an interest, using my own unrefined research as a model”.  The key words to me are “lay reader” since that is what I consider myself.

True to his nature of assisting others with Robert Burns, in a letter dated 6th July 2006 which accompanied the book, Bill said, “I hope you will find this useful.” I will indeed, Bill, and so will others who use your marvelous gift to the Burns community.

If you would like a copy of this wonderful publication, go to and give them ISBN 1846852684. The cost is 30 pounds sterling or approximately $55 in what used to be called “real money”. Actually, when I checked it out, was selling the book for $49.99 with free shipping. Or, you may write to Bill Dawson at 4 Riverview, 25 Claremont, Alloa FK10 2DF, Scotland. For the timid, you may add United Kingdom to the address!

(FRS: 7-21-06, the day Burns died in 1796)

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