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Robert Burns in Colonial Queensland: Sentiment, Scottishness and Universal Appeal

  • Patrick Buckridge


Worldwide, 25 January 2009 was celebrated as the 250th birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759–96). The anniversary celebrations will continue all through this year, however, as the Scottish Parliament has proclaimed – in recognition of Burns' powerfully unifying significance – that 2009 will be a ‘Year of Homecoming’ for all those Scots, or Scottish descendants, who compose the great intellectual, economic and social diaspora that has emanated from this tiny, harsh and indomitable country over the last 300 years.



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1 Boland, T.P., James Duhig (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1986), 230–35.

2 John, Mackenzie-Smith, Moreton Bay Scots 1841–59 (Brisbane: Church Archivists’ Press, 2000), 143.

3 Hornibrook, J.H., Bibliography of Queensland Verse, with Biographical Notes (Brisbane: A.H. Tucker, Gov't Printer, 1953).

4 Buckridge, P. McKay, B., eds, By the Book: A History of Queensland (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2006), pp. 3738, 193–94.

5 Buckridge and McKay, By the Book, 17, 144. See also Cecil Hadgraft, Queensland and Its Writers (Brisbane: Queensland University Press, 1959), 2–4; and H.A. Kellow, The Queensland Poets (London: Harrap, 1930), 18–24, 32–35. (Kellow was unaware of the true identity of ‘Ralph Delany,’ a fact later uncovered by Hadgraft.)

6 Hadgraft, Cecil, James Brunton Stephens (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1969), 105–19.

7 Hornibrook, Bibliography of Queensland Verse, 71.

8 Delany, Ralph [Christie, T.B.], Poems and Songs (Brisbane: A. Cleghorn, 1869), 7, 51, et al. .

9 The Poetical Works of William Burns of Maryborough, Queensland (Maryborough: W.S. Lambert, 1885), Dedication.

10 Spencer-Browne, R., A Journalist's Memories (Brisbane: Read, 1927).

11 Kellow, H.A., Burns and his Poetry (London: Harrap, 1918); Kellow, H.A., A Practical Training in English (London: Harrap, 1911).

12 Day, Leanne, ‘Civilising the City: Literary Societies and Clubs in Brisbane during the 1880s and 1890s’, PhD thesis, Griffith University, Brisbane (2004), 101–26.

13 Macdonald, J. Scott, A Bookman's Essays (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1928), 159.

14 Collected Essays of Walter Murdoch (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1938), 432.

15 Prentis, Malcolm, The Scots in Australia: A Study of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, 1788–1900 (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1983), 194.

16 Main, William, Bush Solitudes and Other Verses (Melbourne: George Robertson, 1896), 76.

17 Mary, Highland’ was the name Burns gave to Mary Campbell (1763–86), with whom he had a relationship after separating from his wife-to-be Jean Armour. The relationship was terminated by her sudden death following a fever, and she is the subject of several of his love lyrics, notably ‘The Highland Lassie, O’.

18 Delany [Christie], Poems and Songs, 45.

19 Forbes, Alexander, Voices from the Bush (Rockhampton: Northern Argus, 1869), 57.

20 Evans, Raymond, The Red Flag Riots: A Study of Intolerance (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1988), 45–47.

21 For a full account of the Johnsonian Club in this period, see Leanne Day, 2003, ‘“;Those Ungodly Pressmen”: A Study of the Early Years of the Brisbane Johnsonian Club’, Australian Literary Studies 21.1 (2003): 92102.

22 Pearl, Cyril, Bawdy Burns: The Christian Rebel (London: Frederick Muller, 1958).

Robert Burns in Colonial Queensland: Sentiment, Scottishness and Universal Appeal

  • Patrick Buckridge


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