A recent addition to the Robert Burns Collection
Janet Little (1759–1813) was a contemporary, and admirer, of poet Robert Burns. She was a servant in the household of Frances Dunlop of Dunlop, a patron and correspondent of Robert Burns. In 1789, Little sent Burns some of her poems. Burns was slow to respond to Little (one critic surmises that Burns might have found Little’s poems a little too much in imitation of his own).
Like Burns, Little wrote in both Scots and English. One of Little’s poems even amounts to hero-worship, excitedly describing a visit to Burns’ house in 1791. Burns did subscribe to the book of poetry Little published in 1792, The Poetical Works of Janet Little, the Scotch Milkmaid. James Boswell (the biographer of Samuel Johnson) was also a subscriber.
L. Tom Perry Special Collections has recently acquired a copy of Little’s Poetical Works – one of only 800 copies printed. Little’s poetry interests scholars not only because of its association to Robert Burns, but as an example of Scottish vernacular and working-class literature.