No writer is more charismatic than Robert Burns and no biographer has captured his energy, brilliance and radicalism as well as Robert Crawford does in The Bard. To his international admirers Burns was a genius, a hero, a warm-hearted friend; yet to the mother of one of his lovers he was a wastrel, to a fellow poet he was 'sprung...from raking of dung', and to his political enemies a 'traitor'. Drawing on a surprising variety of untapped sources - from rediscovered poetry by Burns to manuscript journals, correspondence, interviews and oratory by his contemporaries - this new biography presents the remarkable life, loves and struggles of the great poet.
With a poet's insight and a shrewd sense of human drama, Robert Crawford outlines how Burns combined a childhood steeped in the peasant song-culture of rural Scotland with a consummate linguistic artistry to become not only the world's most popular love poet but also the controversial master poet of modern democracy. Written with accessible élan and nuanced attention to Burns's poems and letters, The Bard is the story of an extraordinary man fighting to maintain a sly sense of integrity in the face of overwhelming pressures. This incisive, intelligent biography startlingly demonstrates why the life and work of Scotland's greatest poet still compels the attention of the world a quarter of a millennium after his birth.