Seven lost manuscripts and letters belonging to the famous Scottish poet have been uncovered by a Robert Burns expert. It is believed that these will throw new light on the poet's work.
The documents belonging to Robert Burns, Scotland's favorite son, and the author of Auld Lang Syne, were found by Chris Rollie. Rollie is a Burns expert, based in Dalry in Dumfries and Galloway, who was reportedly tipped off by a woman about the private collection.
Rollie received the chance telephone call from the woman, asking him to see if six volumes of Burns' work, passed down by her family, were of any value.
According to Rollie, "I realized very quickly that the material I was looking at was original and felt that some of it might be unpublished."
Among these manuscripts are letters between Burns, the pioneer of the Romantic Movement, and his closest friends, including Robert Muir. They include three handwritten manuscripts by Burns including the songs "Phillis the Fair" and a draft of "Ode to a Woodlark." There were also three letters to the author himself.
A further tender letter was from his famous lover, Clarinda McLehose, addressed to his physician, Dr William Maxwell. Apparently the letter asked for details of how the poet died and was dated October 31, 1796, just over three months after Burns' death. During his life, Burns had referred to Clarinda in his work as "mistress of my soul" and "Queen of Poetesses."
While some of the material has been published before, these original copies had been lost for 200 years, until Rollie found the exciting cache. Rollie was quoted as saying "I feel very privileged to have discovered these manuscripts."
Rollie presented these findings at the University of Glasgow Burns Conference on January 12.
The co-director of the university's Centre for Robert Burns Studies, Professor Gerry Carruthers, said, "The finding of the Clarinda letter in full is very timely as we move towards a new edition of Burns's correspondence, and the other new manuscript findings of letters will also help."
"It is very exciting that such lost manuscript material continues to emerge in the 21st century," he added.
The manuscripts have now reportedly been sold to a collector.