A rare first edition of the poems of Robert Burns has been sold at auction for £40,000.

The book, known as the Kilmarnock Edition, contains his first published poems and includes works such as The Twa Dogs, Address To The Deil, and To A Mouse.

It is thought to be one of only 12 copies still privately owned.

The book has been bought by a Scottish business organisation at a sale at Lyon and Turnbull auctioneers in Edinburgh.

Robert Burns' most famous work, Poems, Chiefly In The Scottish Dialect, was published in Kilmarnock by printer John Wilson in 1786. Popularly known as the Kilmarnock Edition, a limited number of books were printed and they sold out within a month.

Simon Vickers, book specialist at Lyon and Turnbull, said: "After whisky, Scotland's most famous exports are its authors and intellectuals: Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and RL Stevenson spring immediately to mind.

"But whereas Scott and RL Stevenson are famous for a dozen works or more, Burns's reputation the world over rests on a single volume, and it nearly never saw the light of day."

A representative of the anonymous buyer said: "This book is the most important work in Scottish literature. We have bought it not only as an investment for the future but will make it available to any organisation or person who may wish to see it. I am happy it will be staying in Scotland and in particular it shall remain in our offices in Edinburgh."

The company will go public at a later date and the book will be made available for people to see at its Edinburgh offices.

Other Burns items in the sale included an autographed and signed letter from his lover Agnes M'Lehose, which sold for £7,500.