James Boswell - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Stories about James Boswell

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Picture of James Boswell, diarist; eighteenth century British Literature / English Literature
James Boswell   (1740 - 1795)
Category:  Scottish Literature
Born:  October 25, 1740
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died:  May 19, 1795
London, England
Related authors:
Lytton Strachey, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Samuel Johnson
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James Boswell - LIFE STORIES
5/19/1795     Boswell and Good
On this day in 1795 James Boswell died, aged fifty-four. Even without his two-decade relationship to Samuel Johnson and the famous books which came from it, Boswell would have a secure place in literary history. This is due to the remarkable stash of journals, letters and personal papers which he kept, and which friends, relatives and negligence kept from the world for over a century.
11/15/1762     Boswell, Johnson, London
On this day in 1762 James Boswell left Edinburgh for London, beginning the eight-and-a-half-month stay that would be recorded in his London Journal, and earn him a reputation as one of the great British diarists. From Boswell's account of his first meeting with his ticket to history: "Mr. Johnson, indeed I come from Scotland, but I cannot help it." "Sir, that, I find, is what a great many of your countrymen cannot help."
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Boswell's London Journal: 1762-1763
by Frederick A. Pottle (Editor), James Boswell
The Journals of James Boswell 1762-1795
by John Wain (Editor), James Boswell
The Life of Samuel Johnson
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A Life of James Boswell
by Peter Martin
Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson
by Adam Sisman
Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography
by Ian Hamilton
literary history
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Analysis: "The Storm"
Find a short biography and commentary of Boswell's account of his travels with Dr. Johnson in Northern Scotland and its western islands, the Hebrides.

"'The Storm' has been excerpted from the middle of the work. It demonstrates Boswell's narrative skills as well as his readiness to present unflattering descriptions of himself as long as they are part of a good story. This ability to turn self-deprecating situations into art was badly misunderstood by Macaulay during the nineteenth century and has led, in great part, to Boswell's reputation as a blithering fool. He was not."
Essay: "The Life Study of Alcoholism: Putting Drunkenness in Biographical Context"
An interesting 1986 article from the Bulletin of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors offers insights into Boswell's life while considering the difference in how clinicians and biographers understand and analyze alcoholism.

"The conventional wisdom among clinicians and others who study alcoholism is that the disease of alcoholism takes on an independent life and must be understood in its own terms —- as a self-perpetuating, uncontrollable urge to overdrink. Personality characteristics of the drinker, the social setting of his or her imbibing, and other life events are irrelevant to this equation. The biographer, on the other hand, comes to a subject's drinking behavior from quite another direction, seeing alcoholism or drunkenness as a response to persistent personality and situational conflicts and other social and cultural pressures. This view —- at once 'ecological' and psychodynamic —- is in fact the hallmark of good biography, for to dismiss overdrinking as some accidental trait in the actor's make-up would be to abrogate the biographer's job of deciphering a subject's life themes. The case of James Boswell is used here as a template for the life study of drunkenness."
Online Books Project
Find the electronic text of Boswell's historic biography, Life of Johnson, presented in ascii text format by Project Gutenberg.
Slainte: Information and Libraries Scotland
This website's Scottish Authors section offers a short biogaphy titled "James Boswell: Biographer, Diarist & Travel Writer." A button at the bottom of the page (reads "more by and about this author") links to online resources, including excerpt from Boswell's diaries.

"Boswell's reputation, until this century, was as Johnson's biographer and he is often dismissed as being simply the Doctor's sycophantic disciple. Boswell's difficult relationship with Alexander Boswell probably resulted in Johnson becoming a father-figure, but his portrayal of Johnson in the Tour and the Life is wellrounded and objective. The modern publication of Boswell's diaries, remarkable for their scope, self-awareness and frankness, revealed a fascinatingly complex character and placed Boswell among the great diarists and auto-biographers."
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March 17, 2018
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