Robert Crawford is a poet and critic who has taught at the universities of Oxford, Glasgow and St Andrews.
He has been Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews since 1995, and has published several books on Robert Burns and on other aspects of Scottish literature.
Seamus Heaney, A.L. Kennedy, Douglas Dunn and others contributed to Crawford's edited collection of essays Robert Burns and Cultural Authority (published by Edinburgh University Press and Iowa University Press in 1997). Angus Calder had earlier written of Crawford's Devolving English Literature (Oxford University Press, 1992; second edition, Edinburgh University Press, 2000) that its “pages on Burns at least equal the most perceptive criticism of that much-misrepresented and undervalued poet ever published”.
In 2007 Karl Miller chose Crawford's history of fifteen centuries of Scottish literature, Scotland's Books, as a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, and it won the Saltire Research Book of the Year award, sponsored by the National Library of Scotland. Scotland's Books is published in the USA by Oxford University Press in 2009, having been originally published in the rest of the world by Penguin in 2007.
January 2009 also saw the publication of Robert Crawford's widely praised biography of Burns, The Bard (published in London by Jonathan Cape and in the USA by Princeton University Press) as well as the publication of The Best Laid Schemes: Selected Poetry and Prose of Robert Burns (published in Edinburgh by Polygon, and forthcoming in USA from Princeton University Press in summer 2009). Edited by Crawford and his St Andrews University colleague Christopher MacLachlan, The Best Laid Schemes is the only selection of Burn's poetry and prose to contain line-by-line explanations of Scots expressions on the same page as the poems themselves. It also contains several rediscovered poems by Burns available in no other edition.
In 2009 Polygon in Edinburgh also published New Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, an anthology of poems commissioned by the University of St Andrews by twelve leading Scottish poets including John Burnside, Robert Crawford, Douglas Dunn, Alasdair Gray, W.N. Herbert, Kathleen Jamie, Jackie Kay, David Kinloch, Tom Leonard, Liz Lochhead, Don Paterson and Robin Robertson.
Each academic year Crawford normally teaches a survey course on Scottish Verse at St Andrews University during the first semester, using The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse (which he co-edited with Mick Imlah for Penguin Classics), and a course on Modern Scottish Culture and Society (co-directed with fellow poet Don Paterson) in the second semester.
Crawford also teaches other courses on T.S. Eliot and (at postgraduate level) on creative writing, while supervising PhD students on a variety of Scottish and non-Scottish topics.
In 2009 he has lectured on Burns at a variety of venues from Scottish village halls to the Library of Congress, and has given a considerable number of readings.