London, Nov 16 : Scotland's bard Robert Burns' life as a hard-drinking womaniser has been "vastly exaggerated", a new biography has stated.
Patrick Scott Hogg, a Burns scholar who recently co-edited a book of the complete works of the writer, made the claim in his new biography on the bard.
According to Hogg, Burns was a sexual novice who was inhibited by his strict upbringing and who probably lost his virginity in his 20s, and added to the thought was that he had apparently been a courteous suitor.
It is a surprising verdict as his famous collection of vulgar verse, The Merry Muses of Caledonia, published after his death, was often denounced and finally banned in Britain until 1965.
But Hogg's verdict has been dismissed as being "neither here not there" by Gerard Carruthers, of Glasgow University, the editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Robert Burns.
"This is a man who fathers at least 13 children by five women. Whether he loses his virginity in his teenage years or in his 20s is not a big deal, and what kind of evidence are we going accept on a claim of virginity? It is not a helpful line to pursue," the Scotsman quoted Dr Carruthers as saying.
"Burns is not a political or moral superhero, he is a man who is a bit good, and a bit bad," he added.