Born in Kirkconnel in 1845, in his late teens Alexander Anderson became a surfaceman on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway. Through assiduous study in his spare time, he educated himself in several languages, and read widely in great literature, and in 1880 obtained the post of assistant librarian at the University of Edinburgh, eventually becoming the Chief Librarian.
In the 1860s Anderson began to have poems published in the The People's Journal and other magazines, and brought out a first collection, 'A Song of Labour and other poems' in 1873, which was followed by three further collections, and Later Poems published posthumously in 1912.
Anderson died in 1909 and is buried in Kirkconnel. In 1912 a memorial was erected on the nearby Kirkbrae.