Poet, flautist and song-writer. Born in Paisley, the son of a
silk-weaver, Tannahill received a good education for the time. At the
age of 12, he became an apprentice to his father. He taught himself to
play the flute and began to compose songs as he worked. Inspired by
Robert Burns' work Tam o' Shanter, Tannahill walked to Alloway Kirk in
1794 and spent time visiting the localities connected with the poet.
An economic down-turn caused him to move to Bolton (England) in 1799,
but he returned to Paisley in 1801 on hearing of the illness of his
father. He set up one of the first Burns' Clubs in the town in 1805.
Tannahill's first and only publication, Poems and Songs (1807),
proved popular, selling out within weeks. His best known songs are
perhaps "The Braes o' Balquhidder", "Braes o' Gleniffer",
"O are ye sleepin, Maggie" and "Jessie the Flower o' Dunblane".
Tannahill enjoyed the theatre, attending regularly in Paisley and
occasionally travelling to Glasgow. Gaining recognition throughout
Scotland, he was visited by James Hogg (1770 - 1835), the 'Ettrick
Shepherd', in 1810.