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Print portrait of James Currie MD, 1816

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James Currie, MD FRS, c 1816

Introduction:
After Robert Burns' early death in 1796, his friends agreed that a biography of the poet should be written, the proceeds from which would help to support his widow and young family. To this end they selected Dr James Currie, a medical man from Liverpool, originally born near Annan, Dumfriesshire.
Image Rights Holder:
Dumfries & Galloway Museums Service
Ref:
224
Project:
241:Robert Burns - People and Places
Material:
Paper
Dimensions:
Image - length: 185 mm, width: 152 mm
What:
Print portrait of James Currie MD, 1816
Subject:
Sadly, Currie's treatment of his subject raised misconceptions about Burns' life which survive to this day. He chose to put a moral slant on the events of the life of the poet and painted a picture of drunkenness and excess in his last years.
Who:
Robert Burns (1759-1796) (his biographer)
T Cadell and W Davies (Strand, London) (publisher)
W W Currie (owner of original)
William Thomas Fry (1789-1843) (engraver)
Thomas Hargreaves (1775-1846) (artist (after))
Dr James Currie (1756-1805) (representation)
When:
1 November 1816 (published)
Where:
Dumfries Museum, Dumfries & Galloway
Background:
Sadly, Currie's treatment of his subject raised misconceptions about Burns' life which survive to this day. He chose to put a moral slant on the events of the life of the poet and painted a picture of drunkenness and excess in his last years.
Description:
Currie was a reformed alcoholic with few literary credentials apart from his admiration of the poet's work. He had met Burns only once. At the time, however, those who knew Burns better were unwilling to take on the role of biographer and the primary aim of the publication was not accuracy but to raise money for the family. The first edition of the biography was published in 1800 in four volumes, costing just over ¶œ1.50 the set. It was an immediate success, raising over ¶œ1,400. Other editions followed in 1801, 1802 and 1803.