Burns Avenue

With Byron Avenue above and Dickens Road below, Burns Avenue is in that heart of Honicknowle where the street names owe their origins to great British writers. More so than any of the others in that large group here commemorated Burns was a songwriter as much as he was a poet, although even that belies the source of most of his income and inspiration.

Born in a cottage built by his farmer father in Alloway near Ayr in 1759, Robert Burns received little in the way of a formal education and was a skilled ploughman at the age of fifteen. Although his first song, Handsome Nell, inspired by a partner at the harvesting, was written the following year it was to be another ten years before any of his work was widely published. The attempts, both on his own and his father’s behalf to make a success of farming dominated those early years and indeed even after the almost instant success that greeted “Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect” (in 1786) he spent little more than eighteen months away from his roots. His “Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs” regarded by many as his greatest contribution to Scottish culture, was something he received no payment for and he died early, aged thirty seven, after an attack of rheumatism, which in turn followed one of his many drinking bouts.