Robert Burns (1759-1796) is considered Scotland's greatest poet. Best known for his feeling descriptions of country life and for satires against the political and religious hypocrisy of the day, Burns wrote much of his poetry in his broad Scots dialect. The eldest child of William and Agnes Burnes (the elder Burnes spelled his name with an "e"), Burns was born in Ayrshire and lived a life of hard labor and poverty as he struggled with his father to make a series of poor farms productive. By 1886, with his father dead, and more failed farms to the family credit, Burns nearly emigrated to Jamaica. His first volume of poetry, however, was published that year to great acclaim, and Burns became the darling of Edinburgh.
Further editions of poetry developed Burns' international reputation. Late in his life, supporting himself as an exciseman, Burns helped to collect and also wrote a wide-range of traditional Scottish songs.