Latest News from Floors Castle
24th January 2011 - Press release issued on behalf of Roxburghe Estates
HISTORIC ROBERT BURNS DISCOVERY AT FLOORS CASTLE
Burns experts have described the letter as a ‘truly remarkable literary’ discovery.
The letter was found in an 18th Century autograph book which was kept by the 8th Duke of Roxburghe and contained letters to members of the family dating back to the time of King Charles I.
The current Duke of Roxburghe said: “This discovery is a delightful surprise. We do not know how the 8th Duke came into possession of the letter but we believe he was a keen collector of letters and autographs as Dickens autograph is also featured in the book.
“Like most Scots, we are huge admirers of Burns and Burns night will have extra special meaning this year. The letter will go on public display at Floors when the castle opens to public in the Spring.”
The Burns letter is addressed to James Gregory, then Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University and head of the city's famed Medical School. It was sent by Burns from Ellisland, his farm in lower Nithsdale north of Dumfries, and is dated May 13th 1789. Accompanying the letter is an early version of Burns's poem: On seeing a wounded Hare. In the letter, Burns thanks Gregory for his support and invites his comments and criticism of the poem.
The letter was first spotted by the Floors Castle Visitor Services Manager.
Professor Purdie Editor-in-Chief of the Burns Encyclopaedia and Dr Iain Gordon Brown, Curator of Manuscripts at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, verified the letter.
Professor Purdie commented: “This is a remarkable discovery. Unpublished letters of Robert Burns are extremely rare and this example is doubly interesting as it not only displays the evolution of one of his poems, The wounded Hare ( published in the 1793 Edinburgh Edition of his Poems ) but, in Burns and Gregory, it brings together major figures of both the literary and scientific components of the Enlightenment.”
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