Robert Burns is one of the most iconic Scots of all time. His work and legacy continues to inspire writers, musicians and artists around the world, but how well do you know this national treasure?
To mark Burns Night today, here are 16 little-known facts about the famous Scot:
- Worldwide, there are more statues dedicated to Robert Burns than any other non-religious figure, after Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus. As well as in Scotland, monuments dedicated to the poet can be found in America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and France.
- It is claimed that Michael Jackson’s smash hit Thriller was inspired by the Tam O’Shanter poem.
- The Scot was the first person to ever feature on a commemorative bottle of Coca Cola.
- Legendary artist Bob Dylan revealed that A Red, Red Rose by Burns is his source of greatest creative inspiration.
- Astronaut Nick Patrick carried a miniature book of Burns' poetry on a two-week-long space mission with him in 2010. It completed a 5.7 million mile trip and 217 orbits of the earth.
- Burns' popularity stretches much further than Scotland. At pedestrian crossings in Japan, the sound indicating that a walker can cross is a rendition of Coming Through The Rye.
- One of the most famous US presidents, Abraham Lincoln, could recite Burns' works by heart.
- Burns fathered at least 13 children by four different women. His wife, Jean Armour, gave birth to nine of his children, but only three survived infancy. His oldest child, daughter Elizabeth was born after Burns had an affair with his mother's servant. His youngest child, son Maxwell, was born on the day of his funeral.
- One of Burns' most famous works, Auld Lang Syne, has appeared in more than 170 Hollywood films including The Apartment, It's A Wonderful Life and When Harry Met Sally.
- There is an app from the Scottish Government that contains more than 500 poems and love songs by Burns.
- In the American city of Atlanta, there is a life-size imitation of Burns' first home in Alloway, South Ayrshire. The real thing still stands as the Burns Cottage Museum.
- Many people are unaware that Burns died tragically young, aged only 37, in the summer of 1796. Although it's unknown how exactly he died, the most common opinion is that he died of a blood infection following a tooth extraction.
- John Steinbeck took the title of his 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men, from a line of the poem, To a Mouse, which reads ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/ gang aft agley’.
- American designer Tommy Hilfiger claims to be a great, great, great nephew of Robert Burns.
- My Heart's in the Highlands was translated and adopted as the marching song of the Chinese resistance fighter in the Second World War.
- STV viewers voted Robert Burns as The Great Scot, beating the likes of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Scottish actor David Tennant.