Abstract

This article introduces a little studied edition of the poetical works of Robert Burns that was issued, early in 1812, under the auspices of the Perth publishing firm of the late James Morison. It contextualises the edition in light of the Morison firm’s publishing programme promoting a cultural-patriotic canon of Scottish literature, while at the same time embedding it within developments in the production of the illustrated Scottish book at the end of the eighteenth century. Related to the Morisons’ earlier examples of illustrated editions (such as the volumes of the poems of Ossian and James Thomson), the two-volume Poetical Works of Robert Burns are shown to have been issued in a competitive environment in which Robert Cromek, Burns’s editor, together with painter-book illustrator, Thomas Stothard, also sought to produce an illustrated edition of Burns of their own – an edition which only materialised two years after the publication of the Morisons’.

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