Portrait of Scottish biographer and diarist James Boswell.

James Boswell

(1740 - 1795)

Arriving in London from Edinburgh in 1762, James Boswell, then in his early twenties, soon met Samuel Johnson, who, then in his early fifties, was already a prominent essayist, poet, and lexicographer. His account of Johnson and his own journals—the latter not coming to attention until the twentieth century—form his unique contribution to the world of English letters. Among his friends and acquaintances were Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, David Hume, and Laurence Sterne.

All Writing


James Boswell recorded that during the sale of Henry Thrale’s brewery, Samuel Johnson—an executor of the business—“appeared bustling about, with an inkhorn and pen in his buttonhole, like an exciseman,” and was asked what he considered to be the true value of the property. “We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats,” Johnson responded, “but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice.”

Voices In Time

1763 | London

Sound Advice

Samuel Johnson on the benefits of being rich.More

Voices In Time

1778 | London

The Dying Is Easy

Confounding annihilation with the apprehension of it.More

Voices In Time

1778 | London

In Good Company

Samuel Johnson holds court on wine and its usage.More

Issues Contributed