Inside Robert Burns’ love life as a sex addict who fathered 13 children to four wives

ROBERT Burns was a serial womanizer who fathered 13 children by four different women.

The Scottish national poet was an admitted sex addict and had a string of affairs behind his wife’s back.

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Robert Burns was a serial womanizerCredit: Alamy
A painting of Burns with his wife Jean and one of their children

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A painting of Burns with his wife Jean and one of their children

He even bragged about his bedroom antics in raunchy rhymes, including one titled Nine Inches Will Please a Lady.

Known for falling in love in the blink of an eye, the lothario impregnated a number of young servant girls while wandering Scotland in the late 1700s.

His wife Jean Armor gave birth to nine of his children – the youngest of whom was born on the day of his funeral in July 1796.

Burns, who died aged 37, even boasted of an “astonishing” affair with his wife Jean that “electrified the very marrow of his bones” in a letter to one of his friends.

In a tangled love life that became the talk of Ayrshire, Burns was already in a relationship with Jean when his first illegitimate child was born to Elizabeth Paton, one of his mother’s servants.

A few weeks later, Jean, the daughter of a stonemason from Mauchline, Ayrshire, was herself pregnant, causing her outraged father to faint on hearing the news.

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The young couple discussed getting married, but she was reluctant because her father James was so strongly opposed to the relationship.

But by then he was having another affair with his “Highland” lover Mary Campbell, who also became pregnant but tragically died of typhus aged just 23, before the child was born.

Jean’s father eventually agreed to let them marry after Burns later returned from Edinburgh as a celebrated poet.

Marriage did not end his adventures and he fathered another illegitimate child with local bartender Anna Park in 1791.

He also fell in love with married society lady Agnes “Nancy” McLehose, and they exchanged heated letters under the aliases “Clarinda” and “Sylvander”.


Robert Burns Poems: List of the Bard’s Most Famous Works Before Burns Night


Scottish artist Peter Howson, who produced a series of paintings depicting the bard as a tormented sex addict, has closely studied his life and times.

Howson said: “We’re talking about someone who was probably a sex addict, someone who couldn’t live without sex.

“That doesn’t make him a terrible person, it just makes him a very flawed individual.

“I think he was also obsessed with anxiety. He was obviously guilt-ridden most of the time and he had a very strong awareness of his own failures.

“He certainly would have known, and that’s why he was obsessed with the devil.

“It comes out very well in Tam O’ Shanter’s poem when he is being chased.”

Scottish bagpiper Laura Marshall entertains guests for Burns Night

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