James Boswell

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Boswell, James,

1740–95, Scottish author, b. Edinburgh; son of a distinguished judge. At his father's insistence the young Boswell reluctantly studied law. Admitted to the bar in 1766, he practiced throughout his life, but his true interest was in a literary career and in associating with the great men of his day. Boswell first met Samuel JohnsonJohnson, Samuel,
1709–84, English author, b. Lichfield. The leading literary scholar and critic of his time, Johnson helped to shape and define the Augustan Age. He was equally celebrated for his brilliant and witty conversation.
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 on a trip to London in 1763. The same year he traveled about the Continent, where he made the acquaintance of Rousseau and Voltaire. He achieved literary fame with his Account of Corsica (1768), based on his visit to that island and on his acquaintance with the Corsican patriot Pasquale Paoli. Boswell married his cousin Margaret Montgomerie in 1769.

In 1773 Boswell became a member of Johnson's club, to which Burke, Garrick, Reynolds, Goldsmith, and other 18th-century luminaries also belonged. Later that year he and Johnson toured Scotland, a visit Boswell described in The Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1785; complete edition from manuscript, 1936). His great work, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., appeared in 1791. In it Boswell recorded Johnson's conversation minutely, but with a fine sense of critical judgment. So skillful was his work that Johnson is perhaps better remembered today for his sayings in the biography than for his own works. The curious combination of Boswell's own character (he was vainglorious, a heavy drinker, and a libertine) and his genius at biography have intrigued later critics, many of whom conclude that he is the greatest biographer in Western literature. Misconduct led to poverty and ill health in his final years.

In the 20th cent. great masses of Boswell manuscripts—journals, letters, and other papers—were discovered, most of them at Malahide Castle, Ireland. Lt. Col. Ralph H. Isham purchased the first in 1927 and sold these and later finds to Yale Univ. Publication of these "Yale Editions of the Private Papers," under the editorship of Frederick A. Pottle and others, reached many volumes. The recent findings, most particularly his voluminous journals, have enhanced Boswell's literary reputation. Always lively and, at times, even exciting, the journals portray Boswell's daily life in extraordinary detail. They are written in an easy, colloquial style, which resembles the style of many 20th-century authors.


See F. A. Pottle, James Boswell: The Earlier Years, 1740–1769 (2d ed. 1984), F. Brady, James Boswell: The Later Years, 1769–95 (1984), and P. Martin, A Life of James Boswell (2000); studies by J. L. Clifford (1970), D. L. Passler (1971), H. Pearson (1958, repr. 1972), W. R. Siebenschuh (1972), and A. Sisman (2001).

Boswell, James

(1740–1793) Scottish author and devoted biographer of Samuel Johnson. [Br. Hist.: NCE, 341]
References in periodicals archive ?
James Boswell left the RCA twice during his studies in the late 1920s, the second time for good.
32) James Boswell, Letters of the Right Honourable Lady Jane Douglas; with several other important pieces of private correspondence (London, 1767), p.
Further Reading Peter Martin, A Life of James Boswell (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999); Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Penguin Classics, 2010); Nicholas Phillipson, Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (Allen Lane, 2010); Ryan Patrick Hanley, Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Adam Sisman, Boswell's Presumptuous Task: Writing the Life of Dr Johnson (Harper Perennial, 2009).
En "Hacia Albion", el autor pasa lista a Samuel Johnson y James Boswell, Samuel Beckett, Joseph Conrad y Jonathan Swift.
Praise indeed, for along with Burke, the most dazzling politician of the age, Johnson's close social circle included Edward Gibbon (whose History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire achieved a sustained perfection in prose that has perhaps never been matched), Oliver Goldsmith, Adam Smith, Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the great naturalist Joseph Banks, the portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick (the Olivier of his day), and the irrepressibly naughty and amusing young James Boswell, who would one day write The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.
His most ardent admirer was James Boswell, who wrote the rst biography of the great man, The Life Of Johnson.
After recapture, she was returned to England, where, through the efforts of James Boswell (yes, that James Boswell), she evaded the gallows, and disappeared.
This 18th Century pile is where renowned biographer James Boswell grew up and is stuffed with original features and furniture.
James Boswell took up Mary's cause in England and the end of the story is about Mary's release from prison.
Published in 1791, the Life of Samuel Johnson became famous at once, but left everyone baffled that such a tremendous masterpiece could have been produced by James Boswell.
IT is often called the 'Capital of the Highlands', a phrase coined by the great lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson when he toured the North of Scotland in the company of James Boswell in the late 18th Century.
Here Davis invokes not only A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland, written by Samuel Johnson, one of Bute's English pensioners, but also A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, written by James Boswell, Johnson's Scottish biographer.