May 27, 2022

Special Collections: University of South Carolina Unveils Handwritten Copy of Robert Burns ‘Afton’ Poem

From the AP (via The State):

Students of Scottish literature and lovers of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns may view a rare, handwritten copy of his famous verse, “Afton Braes,” unveiled Wednesday at the University of South Carolina.

The single page, browned 1789 manuscript in Burns’ handwriting is also known as “Flow Gently Sweet Afton,” and is a romantic paean to the landscape of his homeland and a woman of his acquaintance. It is only one of three known to exist.


USC Dean of Libraries Tom McNally said the manuscript became part of the university’s 5,000-item Scottish literature collection through funds from private donors who asked to remain anonymous.

McNally said the manuscript was acquired to honor of the collection’s originator, the late USC English professor G. Ross Roy, a noted Burns scholar and teacher who passed away last year.

Jarrells, the co-editor of the journal Studies in Scottish Literature, said the library’s Scottish literature collection is the largest outside the United Kingdom and may rival even some collections in Scotland.

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See Also: Scottish Literature Digital Projects (via U. of South Carolina Libraries)
Includes material by Robert Burns.

See Also: The G. Ross Roy Collection of Burnsiana & Scottish Literature (via  U. of South Carolina Libraries)

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Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.