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Record 21783

Reading Experience:

'No − my “Burns” is not done yet, it has led me so far afield that I cannot finish it ; every time I think I see my way to an end, some new game (or perhaps wild goose) starts up and away I go. And then again, to be plain, I shirk the work of the critical part, shirk it as a man shirks a long jump. It is awful to have to express and differentiate Burns, in a column or two. All the more as I’m going to write a book about it. "Ramsay, Fergusson and Burns: an Essay" (or "A Critical Essay" but then I’m going to give lives of the three gentlemen, only the gist of the book is the criticism) “by Robert Louis Stevenson, Advocate, MS., P.P.C., etc.” How’s that for cut and dry? And I [italics]could[end italics] write that book. Unless I deceive myself in a superior style, I could write it pretty adequately. I feel as if I was really in it, and knew the game thoroughly. You see what comes of trying to write an essay on Burns in ten columns.'
Century: 1850-1899
Date: Until: Nov 1875
Country: Scotland
Time: n/a
Place: city: Edinburgh
county: Lothian
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Robert Louis Stevenson
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 13 Nov 1850
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: Writer
Religion: Uncommitted
Country of origin: Scotland
Country of experience: Scotland
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Robert Burns
Title: unknown
Genre: Poetry
Form of Text: Print: Book, Unknown
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 21783  
Source - Print  
  Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
  Editor: Bradford A. Booth
  Title: The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, April 1874-July 1879
  Place of Publication: New Haven and London
  Date of Publication: 1994
  Vol: 2
  Page: 164-5
  Additional comments: Letter 424, To Sidney Colvin, [November 1875], [17 Heriot Row]. Co-editor Ernest Mehew. The material in square brackets has been added by the editors.

Citation: Robert Louis Stevenson, Bradford A. Booth (ed.), The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, April 1874-July 1879 (New Haven and London, 1994), 2, p. 164-5,, accessed: 07 February 2023

Additional comments:

On p. 165, the Editors’ Note to Letter 424 reads: “Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), author of the pastoral drama "The Gentle Shepherd" (1725), a pioneer editor and populariser of Scots vernacular poetry. Robert Fergusson (1750-74), the Edinburgh poet acknowledged by Burns as ‘My elder brother in Misfortune, By far my elder brother in the Muse’ whose life ended tragically in a madhouse. RLS always felt a strong sense of kinship with him.” The Reading Experience evidence seems related to the reading by RLS, in preparation for the projected book, of unspecified works by and on Allan Ramsay and Robert Fergusson as well as by and on Roberts Burns. See separate entries on them drawing on the same evidence.



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)