William Dunbar



The Poems of William Dunbar, ed. Priscilla Bawcutt, 2 vols (Glasgow, 1998)


Devotional Pieces in Verse and Prose, ed. J.A.W. Bennett, STS 3rd Ser. 23 (Edinburgh & London, 1955).


The Maitland Folio Manuscript, ed. W.A. Craigie, 2 vols (Edinburgh & London, 1919-27).

Craigie, Asloan MS

The Asloan Manuscript, ed. W.A. Craigie, 2 vols, STS, NS 14, 16 (Edinburgh & London, 1923-5).


The Poems of William Dunbar, ed. W. Mackay Mackenzie (London, 1932; reprinted 1966).


The Bannatyne Manuscript, ed. J. Barclay Murdoch, 4 vols, Hunterian Club (Glasgow, 1896; reprinted New York 1966).


The Bannatyne Manuscript, ed. W. Tod Ritchie, 4 vols, STS 3rd Ser. 5, 22, 23, 26 (Edinburgh & London, 1928-33).


The Poems of William Dunbar, ed. John Small (with introduction and notes by A.J.G. Mackay and Walter Gregor), 3 vols, STS 2.4, 16, 21.29 (Edinburgh & London, 1883-93)


Pieces from the Makculloch and the Gray MSS. together with the Chepman and Myllar Prints, ed. George Stevenson, STS 65 (Edinburgh & London, 1918).


The main manuscript sources of Dunbar's poems have long been known to scholars: namely, the Bannatyne MS (National Library of Scotland, Adv. MS. 1. 1. 6); the Maitland Folio MS (Magdalene College, Cambridge, Pepys Library, MS 2553); the Reidpeth MS (Cambridge University Library, MS Ll. 5. 10); and the Asloan MS (National Library of Scotland, MS 16500), the last manuscript originally including a number of other poems by Dunbar which are recorded in the list of contents but now lacking.

A few other manuscripts in which particular poems appear are recorded (DuW 55, DuW 75, DuW 130, DuW 151-152, DuW 159, DuW 181-184, DuW 189). No examples of Dunbar's own handwriting are known to survive.

The only other early textual source is ‘the Chepman and Myllar Prints’. This is a collection of printed tracts, the only extant but imperfect exemplum of which is preserved in the National Library of Scotland. The first nine of the tracts, which include seven poems at present attributed to Dunbar, were printed in Edinburgh in or about the year 1508 by Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar. The collection was reprinted in Stevenson (1918) and reproduced in facsimile in The Chepman and Myllar Prints, ed. William Beattie (Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, 1950). Otherwise, so far as is known, Dunbar's poems were not printed until the eighteenth century, when Scottish anthologists like Allan Ramsay, Lord Hailes, and John Pinkerton published selections from the manuscript sources.

A few additional transcripts of poems by Dunbar made in 1793 and afterwards by Joseph Ritson, George Chalmers, and David Laing can be found in Edinburgh University Library (MS La. III. 476).

Peter Beal