James Boswell died in 1795 believing he had touched and kissed a cache of Shakespeare's original letters and papers discovered by a Mr. Ireland. His friend, Edmond Malone, publicly exposed the lot as a forgery just a year later.
About the site
When a great part of James Boswell's personal papers were discovered in the 1920s and 1930s the world already knew him as the author of the much praised biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson. The papers, among them letters, journals and manuscript notes, were discovered in places such as Fettercairn House and at Malahide Castle north of Dublin, Ireland. Most of them eventually ended up in the possession of Yale University, who, beginning in 1950 and under the general editorship of Frederick A. Pottle, has since then published a large part of them in numerous trade and research volumes. Most famous of these volumes is the London Journal 1762-63 but Boswell kept a journal for most of his adult life, enabling us to follow his thoughts, feelings and experiences as a young man in the middle of London society, as a student of law in Holland and traveller in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, as a popular young advocate and author in Edinburgh, as a family father, as laird of Auchinleck, as an unsuccessful advocate in London, and, finally, as the author of the Life of Johnson. He died in London in May, 1795.
This site is an attempt to create an online environment for discussing and studying James Boswell and his contemporaries. Until now the main focus have been the development of an extensive biographical index of nearly all the people mentioned in his journals. In early May, 2005 the first milestone was reached with the completion of the biographical index of the people mentioned in Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763. On August 15, 2005, all the persons referred to in his Harvest Jaunt were added, and since then persons in Boswell in Holland and about half of the first volume of his Grand Tour have been processed as well.
Look around on jamesboswell.info to find:
- A growing number of biographies of the people mentioned in Boswell's extensive journals, among them Thomas Sheridan, Pasquale Paoli, James Bruce, William Forbes, John Wilkes and David Hume. When we last counted we had more than 450 of them.
- A bibliography with descriptions, information and reviews of many of the books written by or about Boswell and his circle.
- A list of Frequently Asked Questions - or rather, specific and interesting questions about James Boswell.
- A forum for discussing everything Boswell - writing a term report? got a question? an interesting observation? Let's have it in the forum!
- A collection of original texts by James Boswell, including some of his verses and prologues.
In the first three quarters of 2009 the site underwent a major re-working, including updating of most of the existing information and a transfer from a home-made CMS to the Drupal CMS which the site is now built on. The new site went live in September 2009. In December 2011 the site was upgraded from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 and at the same time received another design overhaul.
About the webmaster
I am not a professional historian - I am a 30-something M.Sc. of Business Administration and Philosophy, working in the Danish Ministry of Finance. My name is Thomas Frandzen, and some years ago I accidentally stumbled upon a copy of Boswell's London Journal.
I was instantly fascinated by the young man, his life and his problems, and read the book in no time. Within a few months I had acquired another 5 volumes of his journals and letters, and five years later my collection of Boswell-related literature counted about 50 volumes - and it is still growing. I became particularly interested in finding out more about his friends and acquantainces, and immediately began doing a bit of research. The results of this research will be published on this site as it becomes available, together with all other sorts of information about Boswell, his work, his life and his time. The site was launched in December 2004.
Which sources are used?
The primary source for most of the content on this site is Boswell's own journals and his correspondence, as it is published by the Yale University. However, I have done further research into people, places and events mentioned in the journals, drawing on diverse sources such as encyclopedias, journals, electronic books, research databases, contemporary biographies, etc.
Wherever Boswell is mentioned doing something particular on a specific date, the source is almost always his journal - in this case, you can look up the event in the relevant volume of the Yale editions. Sources for all other information, including biographical data, are usually explicitly sourced, unless the details are very minute, in which case the sources are registered in the database, and can be given on request.If you have any further information or questions about anything on this site, you are most welcome - nay, encouraged, even - to send a mail to the webmaster.
I try to ensure, that all images used on the site are available to public domain. Should you think otherwise, please contact me. You are most welcome to send me an e-mail if you need further clarification. My E-mail is email@example.com.
Thomas Frandzen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need to send me anything via regular mail (review copies, source material or other) you can do so to:
Gammelmosevej 107H, st.th.
DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby
All information on this site in some way or other comes from other sources. I cannot guarantee for the validity of these sources, and so I can not absolutely guarantee for the validity of the information on this site. As a rule I only use sources which I deem to be reliable. Also, I cannot guarantee that I might not have misinterpreted some connection, missed out on some information or made a typo. But I gather, that it is still much, much better than nothing.