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Robert Burns, 1759-1796

The items chosen for the University's Robert Burns bicentenary exhibit have been selected from over four thousand items in the Roy Collection on Burns alone. In making the selection, the aim has been not only to display some of the outstanding high points and the rarest items (the Kilmarnock edition, the 1799 Merry Muses, the letter to Clarinda), but also to represent some of the different strengths of the collection, as for instance in sections on the early editions, on the development of Burns scholarship in the nineteenth century, on Burns chapbooks, on Burns and Scottish song, and on Burns translations. For the display, but not in this catalogue, I also included some items, such as postcards, banknotes and postage stamps, to illustrate the poet's popular reputation. The great majority of items have now been transferred with the Roy Collection to the University of South Carolina Libraries; a few items on display, notably manuscripts and artifacts, are from my personal collection, and the postcards were from the collection of Thomas E. Keith. The items on Burns in America, originally displayed as part of a small separate exhibit in South Caroliniana Library, have here been integrated with the main exhibit sequence.

While I have selected the items and provided the descriptions, I should like to thank Jamie S. Hansen, who coordinated the exhibit for Special Collections, my wife Lucie who helped with the exhibit planning and with this catalogue, and Patrick Scott who helped in mounting the exhibit and in editing. Thanks are due to the South Carolina Humanities Council, a state-level agency of the National Endowment for the Humanities, for support of the Burns bicentenary project, and to the Thomas Cooper Society, for generously funding this exhibit catalogue.

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