This book treats Burns' work from the first publication of his poetry in 178 to his song writing and collecting which predominated in the 1790s. It encompasses discussion of Burns' social and religious satires, his political comment and his utterances on love and gender. In line with modern Burns scholarship, this study reads Burns' against both his Scottish and British literary backgrounds and emphasises, particularly, Burns' construction of his poetic persona. As a key element of this latter aspect, the treatment considers Burns against his poetic space for himself as a Scot makes him a crucial Enlightenment and proto-Romantic figure. The book debunks the myth of Burns as 'this heaven-taught ploughman', emphasising his very contemporary understanding of the power of literature, and of the emotions as a vital part of human intellect.