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Book Details
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    Cover of Boswell in Search of a Wife, edited by Frederick A. Pottle
Long title
Boswell in Search of a Wife 1766-1769
Year of 1st publication
Book description

In this volume, we follow Boswell from his return from his grand tour of Europe until his marriage in 1769, in what was probably some of the happiest years of his life. During the course of the book he graduates as an advocate, he gets involved in the Douglas cause, he publishes both Dorando and the hugely successful Account of Corsica, he travels to Ireland in search of a wife, and finally ends up marrying his own cousin Margaret Montgomerie.

Boswell apparently ceased to write a full journal upon his return from Europe in early 1766. The year of 1766 is therefore mostly illustrated by some of his letters to and from William Temple, Samuel Johnson, David Dalrymple and William Pitt. In early 1767 he again began to write a journal, although not as detailed as his earlier ones. He continued this until June 3, 1767, after which no further journal entries are known until January 1, 1768 - which may be either due to his ceasing to write once again, or it may have been lost. Several journal fragments from January 1 until May 22, 1768, are then included, followed by another pause in the journal of almost a year until April 25, 1769, and his "Journal of Journey to Ireland" together with his cousin Margaret Montgomerie. James and Margaret became so close on this journey that they eventually decided to marry, which they did on November 25, 1769.

The blanks left by missing or non-existent journal pages are to some extent filled in by letters and extracts from the Life of Johnson, the Scots Magazine and the London Chronicle.


The book was first published by William Heinemann in 1956 in the usual format used for all of the Yale trade editions. A deluxe version was published simultaneously, in 400 numbered copies. This version includes a number of illustrations not in the trade edition, as well as being of a better print quality.

In 1958 the Reprint Society published a small - almost pocket-size - version, which seems to be a complete reprint of the first trade edition, complete with annotations.

Both versions of the trade edition are available cheaply from AbeBooks. The Deluxe version, however, can rarely be found for less than £60.