The Robert Burns Collection

The Mitchell Library’s Robert Burns Collection is one of the largest, most wide-ranging and growing collections of books on Burns in the world. It also contains original manuscripts, as well as Burnsian artefacts and ephemera. It is a popular focus for research for Burns fans everywhere.

About the collection

Insert image description

The Burns Room in the Mitchell Library

When The Mitchell Library first opened in 1877, one of the first decisions of the Library Committee was to put together a collection of items relating to Robert Burns as a memorial to Scotland’s national poet.

The Library aims to collect all available works by Burns, about him, or related to him. The Collection continues to grow, containing over 5,000 items and is the source for academic and popular research.

Highlights of the collection include:

Works by Burns

  •  over 900 editions of the works including two copies of the 1786 Kilmarnock edition, two printings of the 1787 Edinburgh edition and 200 books of selected poetry
  •  15 original manuscripts in the poet's hand, including the only surviving letter written by Burns in Scots and the only copy in existence of ‘The Ordination'
  •  translations of the poet's works into more than 36 languages
Insert image description

Tam O'Shanter

Works about Burns

  •  biographies, criticism, and guides
  •  encyclopaedias and catalogues
  •  periodicals, including the complete set of The Burns' Chronicle from 1892
Insert image description

Mitchell Tobaccco advert from Burns Chronicle

The Influence of Robert Burns

  •  clubs and societies, Burns tourist trails and festivals
  •  ephemera, artefacts and scrapbooks
  •  artworks and works inspired by Burns
Insert image description

Derby Burns Club dinner

About Robert Burns

Insert image description

Robert Burns

Robert Burns (25 January 1759-21 July 1796) was a Scottish poet and lyricist, widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland.  As a poet who expressed the essence of a nation and sang of common humanity, he has attained cult status not only in his native land, but all over the world. 

Read a full biography at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Finding aid

View items from this collection in our Robert Burns Collection Showcase


Image Gallery

View a selection of images from this collection in our gallery.


More about the Burns Collection

Find out more about our Burns Collection.

Contact us

We welcome feedback from library users.

Contact us to let us know how we are doing or if you want to find out more.