Other Boswell-related literature

The Treasure of Auchinleck

Long title: 

The Treasure of Auchinleck: The Story of the Boswell Papers

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

1974

Book description: 

In the Treasure of Auchinlcek, trained lawyer David Buchanan tells the story of the Boswell Papers, from their alleged disappearance and assumed destruction in the years immediately following Boswell's death to their rediscovery in the first half of the 20th century.

"a totally engrossing adventure story of the progressive discovery over half a century of the papers of James Boswell--and the greatest collection of literary sources ever assembled about a single man or a single period. Colonel Ralph Isham, a determined book collector non pareil, over a period of 21 years sacrificed his home, his marriage, his fortune, and much of his cherished collection of books in order to complete the archives."1

Literature: 

Facts and Inventions

Long title: 

Facts and Inventions: Selections from the Journalism of James Boswell

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

2014

Book description: 

James Boswell was also a journalist, and an insightful chronicler of a pivotal epoch in Western history. This fascinating collection, edited by Paul Tankard, presents a generous and varied selection of Boswell’s journalistic writings, most of which have not been published since the eighteenth century. It offers a new angle on the history of journalism, an idiosyncratic view of literature, politics, and public life in late eighteenth-century Britain, and an original perspective on a complex and engaging literary personality.

Literature: 

Boswell's Book of Bad Verse

Long title: 

Boswell's Book of Bad Verse - Love Poems and Other Verses

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

1974

Book description: 

The volume contains annotated transcriptions of numerous poems and verses by Boswell, of which some were published in his own life time, while others have been known only in manuscript form from his papers and other sources.

Availability: 

Out of print, but available via AbeBooks.com.

AmazonUK: 

0856174874

Abebooks search: 

book+of+bad+verse

Literature: 

Jemmie Boswell and the London Daily Press

Long title: 

Jemmie Boswell and the London Daily Press, 1785-1795

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

1963

Book description: 

This 54 page dissertation was written by Lucyle Werkmeister and published by the New York Public Library in 1963. It deals entirely with Boswell's relationship to the London press in the last ten years of his life, or rather, with the press' conception of Boswell.

Werkmeister's dissertation contains reprints of some contemporary reviews and stories about Boswell, including the anti-Boswell satire Lesson in Biography; or How to Write the Life of One's Friend, with the telling subtitle (An Extract from the LIFE of DR. POZZ, in ten volumes folio, written by JAMES BOZZ, Esq; who FLOURISHED with him near fifty years), published in the Public Advertiser a month and a half after the publication of the Life of Johnson. (p. 32)

Boswell certainly was abused by the press for the greater part of his last 10 years, as is underlined by this citation from the World: "No man is honoured with more abuse than JEMMY BOSWELL - and no man, to do him justice, seems to value it less. He would not give an old Sand for all they can say.". (p. 48)

The dissertation is very well researched and a most recommendable - if somewhat depressing - read to Boswellians, as it includes a lot of material which is not to be found in even the most authoritative Boswell biographies.

Availability: 

Jemmie Boswell and the London Daily Press is usually available for less than £10 via AbeBooks.com.

Literature: 

Who's Who in Boswell

Long title: 

Who's Who in Boswell

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

1935

Book description: 

This is not, as some might intially expect, a guide to the persons in Boswell's journals - you have to stay on this site for that kind of thing. It does overlap, however, as it is a guide to about 350 persons mentioned in Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791).

The first "chapter" is called "January 1, A Day with Dr. Johnson" and it sets the stage for the rest of the book. Each page is a new date, and a new person, and the author states his intention as follows: "Days with Johnson through a period of nearly forty years have shown the present writer the impossibility of becoming bored in the doctor's companionship. I hope a daily visit to Johnson throughout one year will show my readers the truth of what I now say, and help to answer the questions Who's Who in Boswell?"

All dates and persons are described on exactly one page, and all in all the book is very matter of factly and not particularly amusing or exciting, despite the authors intention to demonstrate “the impossibility of becoming bored in the doctor's companionship”. But then again, the book isn't about Johnson but about his many acquaintances, and as such it is a good and valuable guide to readers of both Boswell and Johnson.

Editions: 

Who's Who in Boswell by J.L. Smith-Dampier was first published in 1935, printed at the Shakespeare Head Press, St. Aldates and sold by Basil Blackwell, Broad Street. It seems to have been reprinted in 1975.

Availability: 

It is usually possible to find the 1935 edition for up to £80 at AbeBooks.com.

Literature: 

Boswell's Presumptuous Task

Long title: 

Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

2000

Book description: 

"Anyone who loves Boswell wil find their passion given beautifully articulate expression here". -Phillip Hensher in the Spectator.

Boswell's Presumptuous Task by Adam Sisman received rave reviews when it was first published in 2000, being described as "fabulously entertaining, deft and witty", "excellent", "magnificent", "exhilarating" and "highly accomplished".

Sisman is an accomplished writer and he has done his research very well - and to my great satisfaction, he has cited all of his sources in the footnotes!

What makes this book stand out is, that it is not just another biography, copying the ones written by Pottle and Brady more than 20 years ago. This is an original work about the writing of the Life of Johnson, focusing on a particular aspect of Boswell's life which, as far as I am aware, has never been fully explored before. As such, the book is more a book about a book and a friendship, than it is yet another biography of Boswell. Because of this, and because Sisman's style of writing is really engaging, I recommend this book warmly.

Editions: 

Originally published in 2000, a new edition came out in the fall of 2006, containing some revisions and new material.

Availability: 

This book is widely - really widely - available at Internet bookstores, and can be had very inexpensively via AbeBooks.com. Be aware of which edition is on offer, before you order it.

Literature: 

Boswelliana

Long title: 

Boswelliana - The Commonplace Book of James Boswell with a Memoir and Annotations by the Rev. Charles Rogers, LL.D.

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

1874

Book description: 

This is probably one of the most amusing Boswell related books.

The book basically consists of two parts. The first part is a biography written by Charles Rogers. The biography is very well written, not particularly abusive (compared to many other early Boswell biographies) and very informative, despite all the errors which were bound to be there, due to the lack of sources at the time. In this edition, for example, Alexander Boswell actually accompanied James Boswell to London in 1760. There are some quotes from Boswell's early writings, including the Cub at Newmarket and Ode to Tragedy.

The most interesting part of the book is the second one, which is an edited version of Boswell's own Commonplace Book. It is a collection of short amusing 3-10 line anecdotes, quotes, etc. experienced by Boswell himself througout his life.

Examples:

"Boswell was one day complaining that he was sometimes dull. 'Yes, yes,' cried Lord Kames, 'aliquando dormitat Homerus' (Homer sometimes nods.) Boswell being too much elated with this, my lord added, 'Indeed, sir, it is the only chance you had of resembling Homer.'"

"The Honourable Mrs. Stuart was one day talking to me with just severity against dunkenness (the sin which doth most easily beset me). I attempted to apologise, and said that intoxication might happen at a time to any man. 'Yes,' said she, 'to any man but a Scotsman, for what with another man is an accident is in him a habit.'"

Some of his own one-liners found their way into his Commonplace book as well:

"Captain Erskine complained that Boswell's hand was so large, that his letters contained very little. My lines (said Boswell) are, like my ideas, very irregular, and at a great distance from each other."

All in all, Boswelliana is a brilliant work, and highly amusing. It is very well annotated, even if some of the annotations are known today to be faulty. One last quote, from the foreword by The Rt. Hounourable Lord Houghton:

"Boswell's commonplace-book exhibits some of the author's weaknesses, but is on the whole a valuable repertory. The social talk of leading persons during the latter part of the century is graphically depicted. Considerable light is thrown on the character of individuals respecting whom every fragment of authentic informations is treasured with interest."

Availability: 

The book was originally printed in 1874 for The Grampian Club. Original copies can sometimes be found on AbeBooks.com, but from 2007 it is also available as Print-On-Demand (also via Abebooks) from Kessinger Publishing and others. Keep an eye on which copy you order, as it is not always clear from the listings - if it is marketed as "New" it is almost certainly Printed-on-Demand, even if the publication date is listed as 1874.

Literature: 

Citizen of the World, Man of Letters

Long title: 

Boswell: Citizen of the World, Man of Letters

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

1995

Book description: 

Description from amazon.com:

Commemorating the bicentennial of James Boswell's death, Lustig, an editor of the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell (McGraw. o.p.), brings together 11 original essays by leading 18th-century scholars. The first six situate Boswell in the Enlightenment, examining his exposure to its major figures and ideas, especially on religion, art, and politics. They also attempt to assess their influence on his life as a writer, lawyer, and landlord. The remaining five essays focus specifically on the Life of Johnson and the role of the Enlightenment in shaping Boswell's artistry. In the spirit of Johnson and Boswell, the essays in this collection are sophisticated and articulate yet lucidly accessible. A delight to read and a valuable contribution both to literary scholars and historians of the period.

Literature: 

A Walk to the Western Isles

Long title: 

A Walk to the Western Isles: After Boswell and Johnson

Author: 

Year of 1st publication: 

1993

Book description: 

Description from Amazon.co.uk:

This travel book retraces Samuel Johnson and James Boswell's journey through Scotland and its Western Isles in the autumn of 1773. The book tells in some part the history of Scotland in the 18th century and today, of the people of the Highlands and islands then and now, their history, their whisky distilleries, the Loch Ness monster, their literature and songs, their food and hospitality, their lochs and harbours and sea-sounds - all observed via a stream of anecdotes. Johnson's book "A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland" and Boswell's book "Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson" are compared throughout.

Literature: 

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