When a great part of James Boswell's personal papers was 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 has 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 added, as well as certain other persons of special interest.
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. At the last count, 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.
The website itself has been upgraded several times. For the first few years, it was driven by a custom-made CMS, before being moved to a Drupal 6 platform in 2009, while at the same time most of the content was updated. In December 2011 the site was upgraded from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 and at the same time received another design overhaul. This was followed by a long hiatus what updates were concerned, due to the Webmaster's work and family obligations. And most recently, for most of 2018, work has been underway to move everything on to a Drupal 8 platform, while at the same time doing quality assurance, proofreading etc. of everything on the site, thus making it ready for the future.
About the webmaster
I am not a professional historian - rather, I have an M.Sc. in Business Administration and Philosophy, and I work with national ICT policy in the Danish Ministry of Finance. My name is Thomas Frandzen, I was born in 1977, 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 contained around 50 volumes - and it is still growing. I became particularly interested in finding out more about his friends and acquaintances, and immediately began doing a bit of research, which soon became the first version of this website, launched in December 2004. I still read and research Boswell whenever I've got the time, although, for various reasons, time has been in short supply for some years now.
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 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 the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Frandzen can be contacted at email@example.com.
If you need to send me anything via regular mail (review copies, source material or other) you can do so to:
Att.: Thomas Frandzen
Gammelmosevej 107H, st.th.
DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby
The team behind jamesboswell.info try to ensure that all information published here is correct. However, the Webmaster makes no guarantee of the validity or accuracy of the information contained here.