James Boswell (the younger) - Son of the biographer

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Date of birth
Date of death

Second surviving son of James Boswell (1740-1795) and Margaret Montgomerie (1738-1789).

James Boswell the younger was educated at Westminster School, London, and Brasenose College, Oxford, where he received his M.A. in 1806. That same year he was called to the bar at the Inner Temple, London. He was later appointed Commissioner of Bankrupts.

He shared many of the literary interests of his father and of his father's friend, the Shakespearean scholar Edmond Malone. As his literary executor, the younger James completed the so-called Shakespeare Variorum following Malone's death in 1812, and in 1821 he published this as well as the 6th revised edition of his father's Life of Johnson, edited in part by Malone.

Life with Boswell

According to Frank Brady in Boswell: The Later Years, the younger James was that of Boswell's children who was "closest to his father's heart. They were companions and missed each other constantly. James was high-spirited, clever, sensitive, sensible, and everyone loved him."1

It was James, who wrote the final bulletin concerning his father's health to Boswell's old friend, William Temple, on May 18, shortly before Boswell expired in the early hours of May 19, 1795:

Since I wrote last, my father is considerably worse; he is weaker, and almost all the nourishment he takes comes off his stomach again. He had expressed a very earnest desire to be lifted out of bed, and Mr. Earle, the surgeon, thought it might be done with safety. But his strength was not equal to it, and he fainted away. Since that he has been in a very bad way indeed, and there are, I fear, little or no hopes of his recovery.

  • 1. Quoted from The Later Years, p. 487

The revised editions of the Shakespeare Variorum and the Life of Johnson, edited by James Boswell the younger, are often available in first editions via AbeBooks.