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Robert Burns


Postcard of a cartoon illustrating "Tam o' Shanter"

Image Rights Holder:
Dumfries & Galloway Museums Service
:Future Museum
width: 142 mm, length: 89 mm
Robert Burns
20th Century
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; 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; Mackay, James “Burnsiana”. Ayr: Alloway Publishing Limited, 1988; Mackay, James “A Biography of Robert Burns”. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992; McIntyre, Ian “Dirt & Deity – A Life of Robert Burns”. London: HarperCollins, 1995; Westwood, Peter J “The Deltiology of Robert Burns”. Dumfries: Creedon Publications, 1994

"Weel Done Cutty Sark!".  A coloured lithographic postcard of the most famous scene from the poem, "Tam o' Shanter" by Robert Burns.


Burns wrote the poem, "Tam o' Shanter" as a "witch story" to accompany the illustration of Alloway Kirk which was to be published by his friend, Captain Francis Grose in his "Antiquities of Scotland". It is both comic and epic, telling the story of Tam's encounter with a coven of witches on his ride home from a night's drinking at the inn.


In the scene illustrated, Tam has left the comfort of the inn and has happened upon the coven of witches dancing in the ruins of the old church at Alloway. One is wearing only a "cutty sark", or short under garment and Tam, overcome, cries out the famous line, "Weel Done Cutty Sark!", so beginning a chase from which he only just escapes and in which his horse, Maggie loses her tail.


The drawing and colouring of the postcard are garish and cartoon like in style. The hero is wearing a comically outsized Tam o' Shanter, the name given to a  Kilmarnock bonnet because of its association with this character.