In the letter, dated 1804, eight years after Burns’ death, Jean Armour writes about the death of two of their children. It is thought she was writing to Maria Riddell, a member of a local landed gentry family in Dumfries.
Jean Armour, Robert Burns’ widow
The discovery was made by American scholar Dr Nancy Groce, who, coincidentally, had recently produced a symposium on Burns at the Library of Congress. She paid $75 for the historic letter.
Dr Groce said: ‘I am delighted that this significant letter will be going to a good home.
‘I hope its availability will increase public awareness of Jean Armour Burns, a remarkable and frequently underappreciated woman whose understanding and support assisted Robert Burns to pursue his art.’
* On Burns Night read our guide to hosting a Burns Supper
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