Burns Night trivia – how well do you ken Robbie Burns?

As the annual celebration of Scotland’s national poet approaches, here is some trivia on him to impress friends with on Burns Night…

The best-known portrait of Burns, by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787. Credit: wikipedia
The best-known portrait of Burns,
by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787. Credit: wikipedia

According to some sources, Robert Burns was something of a rural Don Juan, with a fondness for the ladies and a string of love affairs. During his lifetime he fathered an impressive 12 children by four different women.

Bob Dylan selected Burns’ 1794 song Red Red Rose when asked for the source of his greatest creative inspiration.

A miniature book of Robert Burns’ poetry was carried into orbit by astronaut Nick Patrick on a two-week space mission in 2010, completing a 5.7-million-mile trip and 217 orbits of the Earth.

People all over the world sing Burns’ Auld Lang Syne (1788) on New Year’s Eve and, according to the Guinness Book of Records, it is in the top three most popular songs in the entire English language.

John Steinbeck took the title of his 1937 novel Of Mice and Men from a line contained in Burns’ poem To a Mouse: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley”.

The Soviet Union was the first country in the world to honour Burns with a commemorative stamp, marking the 160th anniversary of his death in 1956.

J D.Salinger is said to have based the title of his famous novel Catcher in the Rye (1951) on Robert Burns’ poem Comin’ Thro’ the Rye.


Related articles

Burns Night: plan your own party
The history of golf in Scotland
Queen Anne and the Union of England and Scotland
BRITAIN’s photos of the week: scenic Scotland

Click here to subscribe!
March-April 2014pdf-1

Download BRITAIN Magazine to your mobile today