Boswell as a Biographer

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  • Topic: Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Academic degree
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  • Published : April 20, 2011
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Boswell as a biographer

James Boswell was a very talented biographer whom is best known for his piece called the Life of Samuel Johnson. James Boswell was born on October 29, 1740 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and died on May 19, 1795 in London, England. He is a close friend and biographer of Samuel Johnson. The publication of his journals also proved him to be one of the greatest diarists.

Boswell enrolled in art courses at the University of Edinburgh at the age of thirteen. During his studies there, he suffered some serious depression and nervous illness. He eventually studied at the University of Glasgow where he prepared himself for a legal career. During Boswells travel to London in 1763, he received an unexpected introduction to Samuel Johnson, whose works he greatly admired. Boswell and Johnson soon became great friends. Johnson traveled to Harwich with Boswell to see him off to Holland where he continued to study civil law. In 1766, Boswell spent the next seventeen years practicing law in Edinburgh where he made himself a better lawyer then he could have expected.

On December 13, 1782, Samuel Johnson died and Boswell decided to devote his time toward writing a sufficient biography. In 1785, Boswell went to London to see that his Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides went through the press. This revised version of his original journal came from one of the happiest points in Boswell’s life in recording 101 days spent with Johnson. The book achieved tremendous success. In 1788, Boswell moved his family to London, where he almost had no legal practice there. His primary activity became the writing of the Life of Samuel Johnson. The Life of Samuel Johnson was published on May 16, 1791 in a two volume quarto edition where about 1,750 copies became immediate success. Boswell enjoyed all his fame and later saw the second edition of his Life through the press in July 1793. While he was overseeing the third edition, he died in London after a sudden illness on May...