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.
Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763
Boswells' London Journal was the first part of Boswell's journals that was made available to a larger audience, except for edited excerpts that Boswell himself published as parts of The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. and the Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.
It covers the time from November 15, 1762 to August 4, 1763, beginning with Boswell's departure from Edinburgh, and ending with his last day in London before leaving for the continent, not to return until 1766.
We follow Boswell's fight for a commission in the guards, his affair with Covent Garden actress Louisa Lewis, his (declining) relationship with Thomas and Frances Sheridan, his reunion with old chum William Johnson Temple and the beginning of his friendship with Samuel Johnson. We also hear of the gay life in London with Andrew Erskine, George Dempster and the 10th Earl of Eglinton, as well as his occasional depressions and a visit from Signor Gonorrhea.
The book is amusing and educating, and a great glimpse of life in society circles in 18th century London.
Boswell's London Journal was originally published by William Heinemann Ltd. in 1950. In addition to the standard hardback edition, a deluxe edition was printed in a stronger cover, better print and coming with a bookcase. A special deluxe version printed in just 1,050 numered copies was also published, to which was prefixed Boswell's Journal of my Jaunt, Harvest 1762. This journal begins on September 14, 1762 and ends with November 14, 1762, covering his tour of southern Scotland to visit friends and family. This first journal is not available anywhere else.
The 1950 edition has been re-issued several times, but did not undergo any significant revisions until the 2010 Penguin Classics edition edited by Dr. Gordon Turnbull. The notes to the 2010 edition are thoroughly updated based on the 60 years of research that has been done since 1950. It also includes Boswell's almost daily "memos", which was basically his "notes to self" on what to do and how to compose himself during the day to come. As such, the 2010 edition is to be considered the present authoritative version of the London Journal.
The London Journal itself has been reprinted (and republished) several times, and is very easy to find. A paperback edition with forewords by Peter Ackroyd was published by Yale in 2004. The numbered deluxe edition (with the Journal of my Jaunt) has, of course, not been republished, but is still fairly easy to come by. Several copies are usually available from online used books search engines, with prices ranging from £40 to £160. Search for Journal of my Jaunt to exclude all the ordinary copies of the London Journal. Also, be aware that only the *numbered* deluxe edition contains the Journal of the Jaunt, whereas the un-numbered deluxe edition is really just a finer version of the standard edition.