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Burns

Robert Burns

Irvine

Period:
19th Century
Description:

A steel plate engraving from a painting by D O Hill RSA, of the village where Robert Burns went into the flax dressing business.

 

William Burnes, the poet's father, took the lease on the farm of Lochlea in 1777 when Robert Burns was 18 years of age. The young Robert Burns spent the most carefree years of his life here, despite the heavy work and hardships of farming. During this time his writing skills developed and he began to play a part in the social life of the parish. He joined dancing classes and formed the Tarbolton Bachelors Club.

 

In 1781 Robert Burns went to the village of Irvine on the Ayrshire coast. Irvine was a centre for flax dressing and Burns intended to learn the trade of flax dressing in order to process the flax grown on the farm. The linen industry was at its height in south Scotland and Burns had high hopes of making his fortune in it. Unfortunately the flax dressing shop in which he had a share burnt down and he was left "like a true Poet, not worth a sixpence".

 

This view of Irvine was published in "The Land of Burns - A series of Landscapes and Portraits, Illustrative of the Life and Writings of the Scottish Poet". This was published in 1846 by  Blackie and Son of Glasgow. At this time the development of steel plate engraving made it possible for images to be reproduced in much greater numbers than previous printing technology had allowed. Books such as this one, illustrated by engravings of works by eminent artists, became popular, although they were still expensive and beyond the pocket of most people.

Materials/Media:
paper
Dimensions:
width: 139 mm, length: 92 mm
Source:
Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
Accession number:
DUMFM:0199.72 [Land of Burns, Volume I]
Digital Number:
DMBN185n
Creation Date:
1846
Copyright:
Dumfries & Galloway Council