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James Currie, MD FRS

Image Rights Holder:
Dumfries & Galloway Museums Service
Project:
:Future Museum
Material:
paper
Dimensions:
width: 152 mm, length: 185 mm
What:
Burnsiana
Subject:
print
Who:
William Thomas Fry [1789 - 1843] (Engraver)
When:
19th Century
Where:
Background:
Baldwin, Gordon “Looking at Photographs - A Guide to Technical Terms”. London: British Museum Publications Limited, 1991; Burns, Robert “The Complete Letters of Robert Burns”, Ed. James A Mackay. Ayr: Alloway Publishing Limited, 1987; Burns, Robert “The Complete Poetical Work of Robert Burns 1759 – 1796”, Ed. Dr James A Mackay. Ayr: Alloway Publishing Limited, 1993; Burns, Robert “The Letters of Robert Burns”, 2 vols., Ed. J de Lancey Ferguson and G Ross Roy. Oxford: Clarendon, 1985; Burns, Robert “The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns”, 3 vols., Ed. James Kinsley. Oxford: Clarendon, 1968; Crawford, Robert “The Bard – Robert Burns, a Biography”. London: Jonathan Cape, 2009; Dumfries and Galloway Courier “Interesting Sale – The effects left by the late Mrs Burns at the sale on Thursday and Friday last …”. Dumfries: 16 April 1834; Dumfries and Galloway Standard and Advertiser “Relics of Burns, As Collected By The Secretary Of The Burns Statue Fund Exhibition At The Bazaar, On The 14th, 15th And 16th Sept.”. Dumfries: 11 September 1880; Dumfries Burns Club “Minute Book of the Burns Club at Dumfries – 17th January 1820 No.1”. Dumfries Museum Collection DUMFM:0198.422: Manuscript copy, on display at Robert Burns House, Dumfries; Gibson, James “The Bibliography of Robert Burns, with Biographical and Bibliographical Notes and Sketches of Burns Clubs, Monuments and Statues”. Kilmarnock: James M’Kie, 1881; Gilfillan, Reverend George (editor) “The National Burns”. Glasgow, Edinburgh and London: William Mackenzie, 1878; Goldman, Paul “Looking at Prints, Drawings and Watercolours - A Guide to Technical Terms”. London: British Museum Publications Limited, 1988; Grose, Francis “The Antiquities of Scotland”. London: S Hooper, 1789; Hogg, Patrick Scott “Robert Burns – The Patriot Bard”. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 2008; Lindsay, Maurice “Robert Burns – The Man, his Work, the Legend”. New York and London: Robert Hale and St Martin’s Press, 1979; Lindsay, Maurice “The Burns Encyclopaedia”, 3rd edition. London and New York: Robert Hale and St Martin’s Press, 1980; Lockwood, David “Celebrate the Legend – Discover Robert Burns in Dumfries and Galloway”. Dumfries: Dumfries and Galloway Council, 2009; Mackay, James A “Burns-Lore of Dumfries and Galloway”. Ayr: Alloway Publishing Limited, 1988; Mackay, James “Burnsiana”. Ayr: Alloway Publishing Limited, 1988; Mackay, James “A Biography of Robert Burns”. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992; McDowall, William “History of the Burgh of Dumfries, with Notices of Nithsdale, Annandale and the Western Border”, 4th edition. Dumfries: T C Farries and Company Limited, 1986; McIntyre, Ian “Dirt & Deity – A Life of Robert Burns”. London: HarperCollins, 1995; “Memorial Catalogue of the Burns Exhibition held in the Galleries of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, 1896”. Glasgow: William Hodge and Company, 1898; Skinner, Basil “Burns: Authentic Likenesses”, 2nd edition. Ayr: Alloway Publishing, 1990; Smith, Graham “Robert Burns the Exciseman”. Ayr: Alloway Publishing, 1989; Town Council of the Royal Burgh of Dumfries (Issued) “Catalogue of Exhibits with Official Handbook of Burns’ House Dumfries and other memories of the National Poet”. Dumfries: Robert Dinwiddie, 1944; Welsh, Alex (Edited) “Handbook of the Dumfries Burns Club”. Dumfries: Robert Dinwiddie, 1955; Westwood, Peter J “Genealogical Charts of the Family of Robert Burns and Descending Families”. Kilmarnock: The Burns Federation, 1997; Westwood, Peter J “Jean Armour Mrs Robert Burns – An Illustrated Biography”. Dumfries: Creedon Publications, 1996; Westwood, Peter J (Edited) “Jean Armour My Life and Times with Robert Burns”. Dumfries: Creedon Publications, 2001; Westwood, Peter J (Edited) “The Definitive Illustrated Companion to Robert Burns”, 8 vols. : National Burns Collection Partnership, 2004; Westwood, Peter J “The Deltiology of Robert Burns”. Dumfries: Creedon Publications, 1994; Wilson, Professor and Chambers, Robert “Land of Burns, a series of landscapes and portraits”. Glasgow and London: Blackie and Son, 1846; Wood, J Maxwell “Robert Burns and the Riddell Family”. Dumfries: Robert Dinwiddie, 1922
Description:

A stipple engraving made from an earlier portrait by Thomas Hargreaves of the first editor and biographer of Robert Burns.

 

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.

 

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 £1.50 the set. It was an immediate success, raising over £1,400. Other editions followed in 1801, 1802 and 1803.

 

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.