Janet Little, later Janet Richmond
(1759 – 15 March 1813)
Known as The Scotch Milkmaid, was a Scottish poet who wrote in the Scots language.
Born in Ecclefechan, Little enjoyed a "common education" and, as an assistant to local clergy, was able to exercise her love of reading and writing. By the 1780s she had gained a reputation as a "rustic poetess". Her employer, Mrs Frances Dunlop, recommended her poetry to Robert Burns. Burns, who had recently been inundated by a swarm of untalented imitators, was initially wary, but he later assisted Mrs Dunlop in publishing Little's poetry. James Paterson who wrote a short biography of her in 1840 describes her as "a very tall masculine woman, with dark hair, and features somewhat coarse".
Little's most notable patron, apart from Burns and Mrs Dunlop, was James Boswell. Some time in the early 1790s, Little married John Richmond (died 1819), a widower more than eighteen years her senior. She continued to write until her death in 1813 of "a cramp in the stomach".
- 'On a Visit to Mr. Burns' (1791)
- 'An Epistle to a Lady'
- 'Given to A Lady Who Asked me to Write a Poem' (1792)
- 'On Halloween' (1792)
- 'To My Aunty'
- 'Upon a Young Lady's Breaking a Looking Glass'