James Boswell (1740-1795) was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh. He is best known as the biographer of Samuel Johnson. Boswell is known for taking voracious notes on the grand tour of Europe that he took as a young nobleman and, subsequently, of his tour to Scotland with Johnson. He also recorded meetings and conversations with eminent individuals belonging to 'The Club', including David Garrick, Edmund Burke, Joshua Reynolds and Oliver Goldsmith. Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield in 1709 and was educated at Lichfield Grammar School and, for a short time, at Pembroke College, Oxford. In 1735 he married Elizabeth Jervis Porter and in 1737 moved to London. There, he became a regular contributor to the Gentleman's Magazine, but struggled to earn a living from writing. His London: A Poem in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal was published anonymously in 1738 and attracted some attention. From 1750 to 1752 he issued the Rambler, a periodical written almost entirely by himself, and consolidated his position as a notable moral essayist with some twenty-five essays in the Adventurer. When his Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755, Johnson took on the proportions of a literary monarch in the London of his day. In need of money to visit his sick mother, he wrote Rasselas (1759) reportedly in the evenings of one week, finishing a couple of days after his mother's death. In 1763 Boswell became his faithful follower and it is mainly due to him that we owe our intimate knowledge of Johnson. Johnson's last major work was Lives of the Poets. He died in December 1784.
David Womersley is the Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford. He has published widely on English literature from the Renaissance to the early nineteenth century. For Penguin he has edited Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Augustan Critical Writing, Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful and Other Pre-Revolutionary Writings, and Samuel Johnson's Selected Essays.
James Boswell was the ultimate fan-boy. On page 702 (the text of the Penguin Classic is a little over a thousand pages, plus indexes and notes), Boswell tells a group of men, “I... Read morePublished 7 months ago by LeoM
If you live near or are visiting London be sure to stop at the 300 year old Dr Johnson House in London near Gunpowder square. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Christopher Kelly
Incomparable biography (or stalker's notes) of the great Tory grump Dr Samuel Johnson, packed with wit and wisdom. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Peter Jakobsen
This biography is a masterpiece in and of itself. It was the most thorough tracing of a man's life that I have ever read. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Anthony
This is inspiring and a reminder of classroom days, when sitting and quietly absorbing literary classics was a real luxury. Will save for the kids.Published 19 months ago by maria
I fell in love with this book. It's heavy enough to signify a small woman, and after a week in one's lap,--one longs to hold it again. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Vah-keys
This is a fine abridgment of the ultimate biography. You can't go wrong with this one. Once you become a fan, you can move onto the unabridged. Read morePublished on September 28, 2011 by Beowulf
This book is more of a chronicle interspersed with snatches of Johnson's tabletalk than a full-fledged biography. It is long and dry and boring. Read morePublished on February 22, 2011 by frothy