Bentman, Raymond. Robert Burns. Boston: Twayne, 1987. This complete introduction to the life and works of Robert Burns describes Burns’s background, analyzes his poetry and songs, then places him in the context of late eighteenth century literature. Includes an annotated secondary bibliography and is suitable for high school students and college undergraduates.
Daiches, David. Robert Burns and His World. New York: Viking Press, 1972. A brief but very thorough account of Burns’s life and times. Sections placing him in the Scottish literary and social traditions are particularly useful. The atmosphere of Burns’s Scotland is well conveyed by the many well-chosen illustrations.
Jack, R. D. S., and Andrew Noble, eds. The Art of Robert Burns. London: Vision Press, 1982. The nine essays contained in this book place Burns in a wide social and literary context, outside his native Scotland. They seek to show Burns as a complex writer, and not merely a “cosy representative of Scottish virtues.” Suitable for intermediate and advanced students.
McGuirk, Carol. Robert Burns and the Sentimental Era. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985. A study of Burns’s work in the context of his literary contemporaries. McGuirk persuasively maintains that Burns’s flaws were a result not of his lesser skill in standard English but of the sentimentality of thought and diction shared in varying degrees by most eighteenth century poets. Good bibliography, arranged by topics.
McIntyre, Ian. Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. Written for the bicentenary of Burns’s death, this biography organizes previous research into Burns’s life, telling its story as much as possible through Burns’s letters and the correspondence and memoirs of those who knew him.
Noble, Andrew. Robert Burns and English Romanticism. Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 2001. Scholarly examination of Burns in the context of the great literary tradition of his time.
Skoblow, Jeffrey. Dooble Tongue: Scots, Burns, Contradiction. Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University Presses, 2001. Places Burns and his poetics in historical and Scottish cultural context. Bibliographical references, index.