Facts About Robert Burns: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Ellen Woods-Vaughter

Ellen has a bachelor's degree in in elementary education and a master's degree in reading education. Ellen has taught kindergarten for the past 6 years.

In this lesson, you will learn about Robert Burns' early life and the accomplishments that made him such a famous poet. You will learn what made his poems so popular, and how his legacy is still remembered today.

Early Life

Robert Burns was born on a rural farm in Scotland, on January 25, 1759; he had three brothers and three sisters. Even though his family was quite poor, Robert and his siblings received an education through a combination of public schooling and tutors at home. In addition to the schooling he received from tutors, a family friend of his mother - Betty Davidson - was also inspiration for his poetry, and he started writing poems in his early teens. When Robert was 25 years old, his father died, leaving the work of farming to Robert and his brother Gilbert.

No Green Thumb

When someone is good at growing plants and farming, they are said to have a 'green thumb'. Robert Burns certainly did not have a green thumb! After his father died, he tried his hand at farming, but ended up failing miserably. While his efforts at farming were not successful, he was able to use what he knew about farming, country life, and hard work as material for writing poems about those subjects.

Barren farmland
Barren Farm Land

A Poet Emerges

As Robert's attempt at farming was going downhill, his attempt at poetry was growing more successful. In 1786, Burns' first book of poems was published - Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. People in Scotland could relate to Burns' poems about the differing experiences of the rich and poor, and his poems about everyday life experiences. He wrote poems about his children and his work on the farm. In addition to writing his own poetry, Robert Burns also collected, wrote, and edited songs for several musicians and clients.

Family Life

Robert Burns had twelve children. In 1788, Robert married Jean Armour and had eight children with her; he fathered four other children with different women, though not all of his children survived to adulthood. Robert died in Dumfries, Scotland, on July 21, 1796.

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