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Introduction17851786ExcerptsPublishing


Publishing

Finally, readers might be interested to know that in April 1786 Burns invited subscribers to cover the cost of publishing his ‘Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, by Robert Burns.’ This is described as ‘a blue-paper thin octavo volume’, which was issued to eager crowds of subscribers as fast as they could be made up. The typographers check-note of distribution shows the following list:-

 

Copies

Mr Aitken, of Ayr

145

Robert Muir, Kilmarnock

72

Gilbert Burns, Mossgiel

70

James Smith, Mauchline

41

Gavin Hamilton, Mauchline

40

John Logan, Laight

20

John Kennedy, Dumfries House

20

Mr McWhinnie, Ayr

20

David Sillar, Irvine

14

William Niven, Maybole

7

Walter Morton, Cumnock

6

John Neilson, Cumnock

5

The Author

3

The Printer

70

Sundry Persons

67

TOTAL

600

These books sold for three shillings (15p) and Burns says in his autobiography that he cleared only £20 from this venture after paying costs. However, the copy account between Burns and the Printer shows Burns’ profits ought to have been over £50.

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"Born in Alloway, Died in Dumfries, Lived in Mauchline"
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