Robert Burns (1759-96) was born into a farming family in Ayrshire, Scotland. The publication in 1786 of his first book, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect, made him famous overnight, and saw him feted by Edinburgh society. But Burns made no money from his writing and quickly fell on hard times, returning to farming in Dumfries and, when that failed, to work as an excise officer. He devoted his final years to poetry and the writing of Scottish songs.
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