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Burns’ American influence to be revealed

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By Euan Maxwell
Burns’ American influence to be revealed

THE WORK of Robert Burns has been one of the greatest influences on writers, poets, musicians and creatives all across the world over the last 250 years.

And a one-off event next weekend at Ellisland Farm, Burns’ former home near Dumfries, will look at how the bard’s verse has gone on to inspire some of the leading American thinkers and revolutionaries of the past two centuries, including Abraham Lincoln and anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass.

The ‘Lad of Liberty’ talk will see Ian Houston, leader of the US division of the Scottish Business Network, host the special event at the historic Ellisland next Sunday (October 24).

Mr Houston, who lives in Washington DC, writes the regular Letter from America column for The Herald newspaper and is also a published poet. He sits on the board of The Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, the charity set-up last year to protect and preserve Ellisland, where Burns wrote two of his most well-known pieces of verse, Auld Lang Syne and Tam o’ Shanter.

Mr Houston said: “Ellisland was the stage for so much of what Burns created. To stand on that same stage and speak of him and the audience of hearts around the world he inspired is humbling. He would have wanted us to keep that energy vibrant at a spot he so loved.”

Joan McAlpine, business development manager at Ellisland added: “We are so excited to start holding events again at Ellisland after a successful summer of pre booked tours in the museum. Ian is an inspirational business leader who has researched Burns’s influence on American thinkers.

“It will be fascinating and I am particularly looking forward to hearing more about the wonderful Frederick Douglass, the freed slave who inspired thousands with his speaking tours, including in Scotland.

“We hope this will be the first of several Winter lectures and other public events from Ellisland which we can can also offer as a benefit of membership at a discounted rate. It’s an opportunity also to meet new supporters over tea and scones.”

The talk will be held in the farm’s threshing barn, where tea, coffee and snacks will be served. Tickets are available online at and at the Midsteeple box office in Dumfries.

Furthermore, it will streamed on Zoom for those who can’t attend in-person. To book tickets for the online only talk, go to