Leo Damrosch

Full name
Leo Damrosch
First name
Leo
Last name
Damrosch
Born September 14, 1941
Biography

Leo Damrosch is an American author and professor, specialised in Romanticism, the Enlightenment, and Puritanism. He received his B.A. from Yale, his M.A. from Cambridge and his Ph.D. from Princeton.

Damrosch has written several critically acclaimed books, including The Sorrows of the Quaker Jesus about the early history of the Society of Friends (Quakers), and his 2005 Jean-Jacques Rosseau: Restless Genius was a National Book Award finalist.  In 2013 he won the National Book Critics Award (non-fiction) for Jonathan Swift.

Boswellian impact

Damrosch's latest book, The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age, was released on March 26, 2019. It is available from Amazon.

Gordon Turnbull

Full name
Gordon Turnbull
First name
Gordon
Last name
Turnbull
Biography

Gordon Turnbull graduated with first class honours at the Australian National University. He subsequently took his Ph. D. at Yale University. He has taught in the English Departments of the University of Newcastle (New South Wales), Yale, and Smith College. In 1997 he succeeded as General Editor of the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell.

Boswellian impact

Gordon Turnbull has made significant contributions to Boswellian scholarship since the early 1990s. In 1995, he co-edited, with Mary, Viscountess Eccles, Boswell's Book of Company, which was published by Lady Eccles in a limited number for the Roxburghe Club.1 Two years later, in 1997, he was appointed General Editor of the Yale Boswell Editions. As per March 2019, seven volumes of the Boswell Research Editions have been published under his management, although most have been edited by other associated scholars. 

In 2010 was published the first revised edition of Boswell's London Journal since its original publication in 1950. The volume was edited by Turnbull and especially the annotations, originally by Pottle, were expanded and corrected. Turnbull's edition of the London Journal is today considered the authoritative version.

Terry Seymour

Full name
Terry Seymour
First name
Terry
Last name
Seymour
Biography

Terry Seymour is an independent scholar specialising in bibliographical topics. 

Boswellian impact

Terry Seymour's 2016 Boswell's Books is a unique history of the library of the Boswells. The more than 4,500 entries each represents a single title, and the book documents not only James Boswell's library, but also that of his father, grandfather and two sons. 

On December 14, 2013, Seymour laid the wreath on Dr Johnson’s grave in Westminster Abbey at the Johnson Society’s annual commemoration. He has also addressed the Boswell Society and has been published in the Johnsonian Newsletter.

As of March 2019, Seymour is compiling a census of the first edition of the Life of Johnson. If you have any particular knowledge about the original owners of the first edition, or if you know any of the current owners, you are very welcome to get in touch with Terry Seymour, either directly or by writing an e-mail to the webmaster of this site (webmaster@jamesboswell.info). Requests for privacy are respected at all times.

 

Joseph Ritter - Boswell's Servant

Name
Joseph Ritter
First name
Joseph
Last name
Ritter
Gender
0
Biography

According to Boswell, Ritter was "a Bohemian, a fine stately fellow above six feet high, who had been over a great part of Europe, and spoke many languages."1 He served for several years as James Boswell's manservant before opening the Abercorn Arms, a large inn in Paisley.2

The opening of the Abercorn Arms was advertised as follows on October 13, 1783:3

Joseph Ritter begs leave to inform the nobility, gentry, and the public in general, that he has taken that large and commodious inn, in Newtown Of Paisley (just now built by the Earl of Abercorn), which is furnished and fitted up in the neatest and genteelest
manner; and will be Opened on Monday, the 13th current, for the reception of those who please to favour him with their c ompany, where they may depend on the best usage,
and every article charged on the most reasonable terms

Ritter is the fictional author of a series of love letters to Boswell's wife, Margaret, printed in Boswell's Bus Pass (2011) by Stuart Campbell.

  • 1. In Boswell's Tour of the Hebrides, entry: August 18, 1773
  • 2. According to a note attributed to Sir Walter Scott printed in some editions of the Life of Johnson since at least Croker's 1831 edition
  • 3. Cf. Robert Brown's The History of Paisley (1886), vol. II, p. 95
Life with Boswell

Ritter served as Boswell's manservant for several years, and Boswell, in his Tour of the Hebrides, described him as "the best servant I ever saw".

Alexander Murray - Lord Henderland

Name
Alexander Murray
First name
Alexander
Last name
Murray
Born May 11, 1736
Place of birth
in Edinburgh

Died March 16, 1795
Place of death
in Edinburgh
Cause of death
from cholera
Gender
0
Alias
Lord Henderland
Biography

Alexander Murray was a Scottish judge and politician. He was the son of advocate Archibald Murray of Cringletie and his wife Jean Hay, daughter of Lord William Hay of Newhall. In 1773 he married Katherine, daughter of Sir Alexander Lindsay, 3rd Baronet of Evelick. 

Murray served as Sheriff-Depute of Peebles 1761-65, and from 1775 until 1783 as Solicitor-General for Scotland. On March 6, 1783, he was raised to the bench as Lord Henderland. In 1780, he was elected Member of Parliament for Peeblesshire, but according to official records, he only spoke once, when on May 8, 1781, he "strongly opposed the petition of the delegated counties for redress of grievances, urged the repression of associations as dangerous and unconstitutional and, as a parallel, unwisely suggested that had the Scottish Government in the 17th century repressed the Solemn League and Covenant delegated meetings, there might have been no civil war."1 He retired from parliament upon becoming a judge in February 1783 and was succeeded by his namesake, Alexander Murray of Blackbarony (1747-1820).

  • 1. Cf. Namier and Brooke's The House of Commons 1754-1790, entry: MURRAY, Alexander.
Life with Boswell

Boswell, in his Tour to the Hebrides, recounted that on August 17, 1773, in Edinburgh, before Boswell and Johnson set out on their grand tour of Scotland, Murray "sat with us a part of the evening, but did not venture to say anything that I remember, though he is certainly possessed of talents which would have enabled him to have shown himself to advantage if too great anxiety had not prevented him."

Boswells of Oxford - any relation?

Question

Is there any connection between James Boswell and Boswells of Oxford?

Answer

Boswells of Oxford is Oxford's oldest independent and still trading department store. It was founded by a Francis Boswell in 1738, two years before James Boswell, the biographer, was even born. It stayed in the possession of Francis Boswell's descendants until 1890 when it passed on to Arthur Pearson of the Oxford Drug Company. Today it occupies the building at 1-4 Broad Street.

There is nothing to indicate any immediate family relationship between the Boswells of Auchinleck and the Boswells of Oxford, and one might have expected James Boswell to mention it, had he been aware of any such relation. Boswell visited Oxford from April 23 to 26, 1763, and stayed at the Blue Boar Inn, which was located on the corner of St Aldate's and Blue Boar St, where the Museum of Oxford stands today. This was only a few hundred meters from 50 Cornmarket Street, the location of the first Boswells of Oxford. 

Read more about the history of Boswells of Oxford here.

What does it mean to be a Boswell?

Question

What does it mean to be a Boswell?

Answer

To be someone's Boswell is a phrase inspired by the relationship between James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. Boswell looked up to the older and more famous Johnson, and he made a point of writing down many of their conversations and accompanying Johnson on some of his travels, especially their trips to the Hebrides in 1773. In 1791, Boswell published the biography The Life of Johnson about his friend, who had died 7 years earlier. The Life has had as much influence on later biographies, as Johnson's own dictionary has had on the history of dictionaries, and being someone's Boswell has come to mean a frequent companion and life chronicler of that person.

The most famous example of "being someone's Boswell" is probably in Arthur Conan Doyle's A Scandal in Bohemia (1891), in which Sherlock Holmes says to Dr. Watson, "I am lost without my Boswell." In Conan Doyle's novels about the famous detective, Watson assists Holmes on most of his investigations, and he is also the supposed author of the novels themselves, thus being Holmes' chronicler and companion.