This incisive, intelligent biography by Robert Crawford, startlingly demonstrates why the life and work of Scotland's greatest poet still compels the attention of the world a quarter of a millennium after his birth. Written with accessible élan and nuanced attention to Burns's poems and letters, The Bard is the story of an extraordinary man fighting to maintain a sly sense of integrity in the face of overwhelming pressures.
To his international admirers Burns was a genius, a hero, a warm-hearted friend; yet to the mother of one of his lovers he was a wastrel, to a fellow poet he was 'sprung...from raking of dung', and to his political enemies a 'traitor'. Drawing on a surprising variety of untapped sources - from rediscovered poetry by Burns to manuscript journals, correspondence, interviews and oratory by his contemporaries - this new biography presents the remarkable life, loves and struggles of the great poet.
With a poet's insight and a shrewd sense of human drama, Robert Crawford outlines how Burns combined a childhood steeped in the peasant song-culture of rural Scotland with a consummate linguistic artistry to become not only the world's most popular love poet but also the controversial master poet of modern democracy.
Robert Crawford is a poet, biographer, critic and literary historian who has published eight full collections of poetry and many prose books, including Young Eliot. Emeritus Wardlaw Professor of Poetry at the University of St Andrews.