Burns Birthplace Appeal/Byron Auction – Poetry News Roundup January 28th

We begin the week here at My Poetic Side with an appeal to save the birthplace of Robert Burns. We also take a look at the rare collection of Byron memorabilia that will be going to auction shortly.

Appeal to Save Poets Birthplace Launched

The cottage in Alloway where the poet Robert Burns was born is in danger of falling into disrepair unless urgent work is carried out to mend the thatched roof, the wall and the chimney.

An urgent public appeal has been launched in the hope of raising the £100,000 that is estimated is needed in order to restore this vital visitor’s attraction.

Burns was born in the thatched cottage in Alloway in 1759 and lived there for seven years. The cottage was built by his father just 2 years before the poet’s birth.

The National Trust for Scotland say that there are significant tears in the traditional thatched roof at the back of the cottage and some of it has even worn away. The front of the cottage is also damaged, moss has begun to grow under the thatch and when it rains it is retaining water and rotting the roof. The elements have also damaged the north-west gable and the interior plasterwork.

In addition to being the birthplace of the poet, the cottage also played host to the very first Burns Supper which took place five years after Burn’s death when a group of his closest friends met up there.

Since 2008, the cottage has been looked after by the National Trust for Scotland, but they are now saying that they need more help in order to repair the significant damage to the cottage. They have drawn up a plan to undertake the repairs in stages as soon as they get the necessary funding. They plan to repair the walls including the cracks, the roof will, of course, be rethatched and finally, the walls weatherproofed.

The Cult of Byron Collection

Lord Byron died at the age of 36. He was just one of a number of great poets whose life was cut tragically short at an early age; John Keats was 25, Wilfred Owen 25, and Thomas Chatterton only 17.

At the time of his death, he was already something of a cultural icon. He was flamboyant, handsome and he wrote stunning short poems. He had his fans then, and he still does.

Harold Ward is one such fan and on 6th – 7th February his impressive collection of Byron memorabilia will be going under the hammer. The collection includes medals, letters, books, snuff boxes, seals and even a sauceboat that bears the family crest of the Byron’s.

The collection also includes some rather quirky items. Two bits of “firewood” believed to have been shot by Byron himself when making practise shots and a piece of crimson damask from the bed that the poet shared with his wife on their honeymoon will be part of the auction. The poet and his wife were married for only one month – theirs was one of the shortest marriages in history.

There is also a rare letter sent to the poet from his daughter Ada Lovelace who was not only a brilliant mathematician but also a significant figure in the history of the computer.

The collection is likely to spark significant interest amongst Byron enthusiasts all over the world.

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