Skip to main content
Book Details
  • Image
    Cover of Boswell for the Defence 1769-1774, edited by William K. Wimsatt and Frederick A. Pottle
Long title
Boswell for the Defence 1769-1774
Year of 1st publication
Book description

This volume covers Boswell's first years as a "true adult", having recently been married to Margaret Montgomerie, and having established himself as an advocate in his native Edinburgh. In the words of co-editor William Wimsatt, "[i]t gives us in succession the model young husband and professional man, the adventurer returning to literary associations and the ways of the southern metropolis, and then the Scots advocate in a summer session. Energetic conversationalist, steady drinker, and anguished pleader of a desperate cause. We have, in short, Boswell the "Benedict," Boswell at the Club, Boswell Agonistes."

The 1989 play Boswell of the Defence starring Leo McKern, which was planned to be adapted into a movie starring Steve Coogan in 2015, does not have anything to do with this volume of Boswell's journals. Rather, the play is a fictionalised account of Boswell taking place in 1793, based on his defence of convict Mary Bryant.


Boswell for the Defence was published simultaneously by William Heinemann Ltd. (UK) and McGraw-Hill (US) in 1960, and was released in two editions, a standard edition and a limited deluxe edition in 350 numbered copies. It is currently out-of-print but easily available from AbeBooks.

Anonymous (not verified) Wed, 08/17/2011 - 18:32

You might also mention the excellent BBC 1981 production, "Boswell for the Defence", about the John Reid sheep theft case.