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Robert Burns: A Life

Ian McIntyre

4 Reviews

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

The most highly acclaimed modern biography of Scotland's most famous poet reissued for the 250th anniversary.

No other poet excites such fanatical, worldwide devotion as Robert Burns (otherwise known as Rabbie Burns, Scotland's Favourite Son, the Ploughman Poet, the Bard of Ayrshire or simply the Bard). Ian McIntyre's biography, first published to mark the bicentenary of Burns's death and revised here for the 250th anniversary of his birth, is still considered the best take on a notorious and often over-romanticised life.

McIntyre's meticulous use of documentary and archival sources strips away myth and legend. Here, we meet the man - eminently capable of holding two contradictory political views at the same time, he was just as capable of being in love with several women at once. McIntyre also fully evaluates Burns' songs and poetry and brings to light the importance and quality of his satirical verse. McIntyre is enthusiastic but always objective and his work brings us the clearest, most sharply appreciated portrait of this great poet.

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Praise for Robert Burns: A Life

  • The biography of Burns.

  • If you read Burns, then buy this. If you don't read Burns, then start. - Economist

  • McIntyre transports you absolutely into the world of his subject. A shrewd, clear, comprehensive and wonderfully readable portrait of Burns as fallible man and gifted poet. - Financial Times

  • This biography is a major achievement, not least because the author has managed something not usually the norm in Burns scholarship - impartiality. This is a remarkable book. - Daily Mail

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Ian McIntyre

Ian McIntyre was Controller of BBC Radio 3 for nine years and is a former associate editor of The Times. He is the author of a highly acclaimed biography of Robert Burns ('the biography', Ian Hamilton, The Times) as well as lives of Joshua Reynolds, Garrick and the BBC's first Director-General, John Reith. He still broadcasts and is a regular contributor to The Times.

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