Robert Burns

1759 (Alloway, Scotland) – 1796 (Dumfries)

A pioneer of romanticism, and Scotland’s best-known poet, Burns stayed his own man. Blacklock’s timely letter helped stop him emigrating to Jamaica (they only met later, writing fondly to one another in verse). Burns used to correct his proofs on a stool in Smellie’s messy office, their relationship such that their racily indiscreet letters were destroyed as unfit for publication. Burns was a regular at Monboddo’s, composing an elegy for his daughter when she died. He met the young Scott (Burns’s plain manners impressing) at Ferguson’s; Adam Smith, a Burns fan with several friends in common, just failed to meet him.