THE words he wrote more than 200 years ago live long in the memory, from Auld Lang Syne to the Address to a Haggis, with Robert Burns famed around the world as Scotland's national bard.

Now, as enthusiasts prepare to mark his birth on January 25, 1759 at Alloway, Ayrshire, with the traditional Burns' Night celebrations, a surprising detail has emerged about his early literary efforts.

According to new research, Burns was advised not to write in Scots by a correspondent who thought it would limit his audience.

A project by academics at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies looked at letters to and from Burns.

The team looked at some 800 letters written by him and around 300 to 400 letters from his friends and admirers and have put together both sides of the letter correspondence where available.

They found that Dr John Moore advised the poet not to write in Scots, warning that London readers would not connect with it, though Burns obviously ignored his suggestion.

Dr Rhona Brown, a senior lecturer in Scottish Literature at the university’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies, said: “In the correspondence, we get closer to Burns ‘the man’ than anywhere else; his letters reveal his triumphs, failures, anxieties, fears and joys.

“Our edition of the correspondence is also presenting, for the first time, letters written to Burns as well as by Burns, allowing us to reconstruct personal dialogues from throughout Burns’s life.

“Two of Burns’s relationships stand out - with Dr John Moore and Mrs Frances Dunlop - as we have both sides of the correspondence.

“What is fascinating, for example, is that early on, Moore advised Burns not to write in Scots.

"He cautioned Burns that he was limiting his audience and felt that London readers wouldn’t understand or connect with the Scots language.

"Dunlop advised him to avoid political subjects.

“But Burns is his own man and ignores the advice and carries on regardless.

"I think history has now shown that he was right.”

People around the globe will celebrate Burns Night on January 25 to celebrate the anniversary of the poet’s birth.

The correspondence will be published as part of the new Collected Works of Robert Burns published by the Oxford University Press.

The new edition’s publication of responses to the poet’s letters also reveals that reactions to his works were not always what people might expect.

Dr Craig Lamont, a research associate in Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow, said: “Burns sends Dr John Moore a long, heartfelt letter giving a detailed account of his childhood and life up to 1787; this letter is now known as Burns’s autobiographical letter.

“In response, Moore asks Burns to ‘divide your letters when they are so heavy’, because ‘I was obliged to pay six & eightpence for it’.”

The team will premiere their video documentary on the “Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century: Correspondence” project at 10am todayon January 17 at

The Centre will also host an online question and answer session on Thursday January 20 so that members of the public and Burns scholars can find out more about the project, with more information available via @GlasgowBurns.

Elsewhere, Burns Night In is returning for a second year, after the National Trust for Scotland confirmed its 2022 event will take place online.

The salute to the Scots icon will take place on Saturday, January 22 and will be streamed live online.

The evening will be hosted by DJ and presenter Edith Bowman and promises a night of "music, song, poetry, whisky and some great Scottish banter".

Ms Bowman said: ‘I am so pleased to be heading back to Alloway for an even bigger and better Burns Big Night In for 2022.

"It’s really exciting to be able to offer Burns fans from all over the globe the chance to connect with the birthplace of the Bard, and to add their performance to proceedings for this special celebration."

Joining the presenter is the Scottish singer and songwriter Siobhan Miller who has won both the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Traditional Track and the BBC Alba Scots Trad Music Awards’ Scots Singer of the Year.

Caroline Smith, the National Trust for Scotland Operations Manager at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, said: ‘This is a really vibrant programme full of top Scottish-based talent and they’ll help us celebrate the Bard in 21st-century-style. We’re proud to be bringing this celebration from the place where Burns was born, to those who love him, all over the world."

The Burns Big Night In made its debut in January 2021 when Coronavirus restrictions meant that in-person celebrations at the museum couldn’t take place.