Allan Ramsay

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Ramsay, Allan,

1685?–1758, Scottish poet. An Edinburgh bookseller, he opened one of the first circulating libraries in Great Britain. The Gentle Shepherd (1725), a pastoral comedy, is his most famous poetic work. He compiled several collections of old Scottish poems and songs and is considered an important figure in the revival of Scottish vernacular poetry that culminated in the work of Robert BurnsBurns, Robert,
1759–96, Scottish poet. Life

The son of a hard-working and intelligent farmer, Burns was the oldest of seven children, all of whom had to help in the work on the farm.
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. His son, Allan Ramsay, 1713–84, was a noted portrait painter. After a successful career in Edinburgh he moved to London in 1767 and became principal painter to George III.


See biography of the elder Ramsay by O. Smeaton (1896); study by B. Martin (1931).

Ramsay, Allan


Born Oct. 15, 1686, in Leadhills, Lanarkshire; died Jan. 7, 1758, in Edinburgh. Scottish poet.

Ramsay collected old Scottish poetry. In 1718 he published the narrative poem Chrysts-Kirke on the Greene and between 1718 and 1720 the collection Scots Songs. He also published an anthology of Scottish verse written before 1600, The Evergreen (1724), and a collection of English and Scottish songs, The Tea-table Miscellany (1724–27), which included some verses by Ramsay himself. He wrote the dramatic pastoral The Gentle Shepherd (1725) and the collection Thirty Fables (1730). Ramsay’s poetry, written in the spirit of Scottish folk poetry and in Scottish dialect, influenced R. Burns and R. Fergusson.


Works, vols. 1–3. Edinburgh-London, 1951–61.


Gibson, A. New Light on Allan Ramsay. Belfast, 1927.
Martin, B. Allan Ramsay: A Study of His Life and Works. Cambridge, Mass., 1931.
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