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Earlier this year, Mike Collier, a British-born author based for some years in the Baltic country of Latvia, published "Up The Baltick" - a journal of Boswell and Johnson's hitherto unknown journey through the Baltic countries in 1778.

Up the Baltick book cover
Cover of Up the Baltick
The full name of the book is actually "Up The Baltick: The rediscovered journey of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson to Esthonia, Livonia and Kurland in the year 1778". In reality, no such journey took place, but Boswell and Johnson did seriously discuss the possibility of making such a trip, while they travelled together in the Hebrides in 1773. A few years later, however, on September 9, 1777, Boswell wrote to Johnson, that "I shrink a little from our scheme of going up the Baltic", suggesting instead that they went to Ireland, which, unfortunately, also did not happen.

Even so, the basic (fictional) premise of "Up The Baltick" is that the journey as discussed by Boswell and Johnson while on the Isle of Skye in 1773 actually did happen, although Collier does write, tongue-in-cheek, about "disregarding the view expressed by certain critics that the whole work is a fraud of Ossian-like audacity", with a clear reference to Boswell's contemporary James Macpherson who gained fame as the purported discoverer of a number of poems by the ancient Gaelic poet Ossian - they later turned out to be, to a large extent, Macpherson's own invention. 

Collier has tried to copy Boswell's way of writing, although the style is somewhat more modern and polished. He does make some use of the sort of explanatory footnotes that were also used by Boswell, the volume is humorous as well as educative in places, and Collier does seem to be quite fond of the Baltics as well as of Boswell and Johnson.

"Up the Baltick" is published by the author, and it is available as a Kindle e-book or as print-on-demand paperback via (international Kindle and US paperback) and (UK Kindle and EU/UK paperback).



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