Scotland’s University of Glasgow has announced an 18 month project to produce the first ever extensive database of Scotland’s loved poet Robert Burns manuscripts, which could hold great significance for Burns scholars across Scotland.
The Centre (center) for Robert Burns Studies is in collaboration with BurnsScotland to examine, digitize and store all Burns papers.
Papers will likely be drawn from several institutions, which include private collections and national libraries and the project will also record physical details of the papers such as watermarks, differences in paper quality and size. The quality of paper that Burns used varied depending on what he was doing at the time and different stages of his life. And, according to Gerard Carruthers, Professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, “When a ploughman it was sometimes whatever scraps of paper he could find, and when Burns was an exciseman he used paper from his employment there”. An exciseman is a government tax collector.The project is also expected to allow light to be shed on the authenticity of some works—there are apparently some clever forgeries out there.
After the initial 18 months the project the database will be expanded to include archives outside of Scotland, and will be used by partners of BurnsScotland. “These partners include the National Library of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, Glasgow Life and the National Museums of Scotland.”
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