Robert Burns letter found at Floors Castle
- 24 January 2011
- From the section South Scotland
An unpublished letter written by Robert Burns more than 220 years ago has been found at Floors Castle in the Borders.
Experts have called it a "remarkable discovery" at the home of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe.
The letter was found in a 19th Century autograph album containing a variety of historical documents.
The duke described it as a "delightful surprise" and said the correspondence would go on display when the castle opened to the public in the spring.
The Burns letter is addressed to James Gregory, then Professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh 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 13 May 1789.
Accompanying the letter is an early version of the Burns poem, On Seeing a Wounded Hare.
In the letter, he 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 in the autograph album, which was owned by the 6th Duke of Roxburgh.
The current duke said: "This discovery is a delightful surprise.
"We do not know how the 6th duke came into possession of the letter but we believe he was a keen collector of letters and autographs as Dickens' autograph also features in the book.
"Like most Scots, we are huge admirers of Burns and Burns night will have extra special meaning this year."
Prof David Purdie, editor-in-chief of the Burns Encyclopaedia, was among the experts who verified the letter.
He said: "This is a remarkable discovery.
"Unpublished letters of Robert Burns are extremely rare.
"This example is doubly interesting as it not only displays the evolution of one of his poems, the Wounded Hare but, in Burns and Gregory, it brings together major figures of both the literary and scientific components of the Enlightenment."