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William Scott Douglas, editor





William Scott Douglas, (10 January 1815 – 23 June 1883), an editor, was born in Hawick, the son of Alexander Douglas and his wife, Isabella Scott. He was educated at Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh.

On 5 June 1862 he married Isabella Forbes, with whom he had at least five children: William (b. 1863), Daniel (b. 1865), David Gordon (b. 1868), Isabella Scott (b. 1873), and Jessie Irving (b. 1874). Sir William Scott Douglas was his grandson.

Douglas worked as a mercantile accountant, like his father before him, but in his leisure time he put much effort into studying the life and works of Burns, acquiring perhaps a more thorough mastery of them than any previous editor of Burns's works. In 1850 he read a paper on the ‘Highland Mary’ incident of Burns's life before the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. His principal publications were a reissue of the Kilmarnock, ‘popular edition’ of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns with Memoir, &c (1871; rev. edn, 1876); Descriptive Picture of the County of Ayr (1874); and a splendid, six-volume library edition of The Works of Robert Burns (1877–9). The poems in this edition are arranged chronologically, and while it was the most sumptuous yet published it was also the most complete and correct regarding both text and notes. He also supplied letterpress for an edition of B. W. Crombie's Modern Athenians, published in 1882. In 1877 he succeeded James Ballantine as secretary of the Edinburgh Burns Club.

He was found, drowned, off the East Pier at Leith on 23 June 1883.






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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024