MS: Subscribers list for the Kilmarnock Edition 1786.

John Wilson, creator 
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Robert’s dream of becoming Scotland’s Bard moved a step closer to reality in early 1786 when he approached Kilmarnock printer John Wilson about publishing a volume of his poetry.

Wilson was known for supporting local talent but he was hesitant to publish the work of an unknown author from Ayrshire. Burns and Wilson agreed that if Burns could raise enough advance subscriptions for the book, then he would print it.

Robert created a subscription form asking subscribers to pledge three shillings toward the purchase of the volume. He distributed ninety-six of these forms to his friends and supporters throughout the community.

Today only this one survives. The document contains the signatures of a dozen or so patrons noting the number of copies they wish to purchase.

Burns eventually gathered together 350 subscriptions, which convinced Wilson to print his Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect in July 1786.

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