Glover, Jean (DNB00)

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GLOVER, JEAN (1758–1801), Scotch poetess, was born at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, 31 Oct. 1758, her father being a hand-loom weaver. While very young she joined a band of strolling players and married their leader. Burns describes her in unqualified terms as a person with no character to lose, but other contemporaries, who long, survived her, say that she was merely 'a roughly hardened tramp, a wilful, regardless woman.' Her husband's christian name or surname was Richard. Burns summarily disposes of him as 'a sleight-of-hand blackguard.' Jean Glover had the reputation of being the best singer and actor in the company, and in gaudy attire she used to play on a tambourine in the street to attract customers to her husband 'juggling in a room down a close.' In her player's finery she struck one ingenuous observer as 'the brawest woman that had ever been seen to step in leather shoon.' Her bright, melodious lyric 'Ower the muir among the Heather' is a genuine addition to Scottish pastoral poetry. She may have composed others, but they are not preserved; this one, happily, was written down by Burns from the singing of Jean Glover herself. Stewart Lewis used the same air for a ballad of his, with which it is important not to confound this typical Scottish song. Jean Glover died at Letterkenny, co. Donegal, in 1801.

[Johnson's Musical Museum; Ayrshire Contemporaries of Burns; Chambers's Life and Works of Burns. iv. 291; Tytler and Watson's Songstresses of Scotland, vol. i.]

T. B.