Robert Crawford, biographer of Burns, on some really useful Robert Burns websites
Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Among other things, on this site you can explore what is presented as ‘the world’s most important Burns collection’. I found material from this collection invaluable when writing my biography of Burns, The Bard. The collection belonging to the Birthplace Museum contained leads that eventually helped me to discover new poems by Burns, and there may be other leads in there that remain to be fully explored.
Robert Burns at the Library of Congress
This is an interesting site not least for the way it shows how Burns is important to modern Scottish politicians (Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland, appears on it) as well as to twenty-first-century poets and scholars. It lets you see how Burns was presented in the world’s greatest library on the 250th anniversary of his birth. Participants include the American Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, Scottish broadcaster Billy Kay, and the Librarian of Congress. You can jump right into the middle of the proceedings by looking at the time-codes in the programme. I give a lecture on Burns and American poetry (‘America’s Bard’) and a poetry reading as part of the proceedings.
Want to hear a Burns poem or song?
The BBC Robert Burns site contains recordings of 716 of them. You can listen to anything from Liz Lochhead, contemporary Scotland’s Makar (National Poet), reading Burns’s address to a haggis to HRH Prince Charles reading ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’. From resources for Scottish schoolchildren studying Burns for their Higher exams to instructions about how to run a Burns Night supper, this is a go-to site.
Want to find out more about Burns and Scottish poetry?
The best website to visit for a sense of Scottish poetry as a whole and Burns’s place in it is the website of the Scottish Poetry Library. Based in Edinburgh at 5 Crichton’s Close just off the Canongate part of the historic Royal Mile, the Scottish Poetry Library is a cultural gem – and its digital wizard just happens have studied poetry at the University of St Andrews. You can even ask your own poetry questions on interactive parts of the site. What could be better?