James Boswell(1740-1795), Biographer of Dr Johnson
Sitter associated with 16 portraits
Born in Edinburgh in 1740, Boswell was the son of the Laird of Auchinleck, a title he later inherited. In 1762, having qualified as a lawyer, he travelled to London hoping to rub shoulders with ‘men of genius’ and in particular his literary hero, Samuel Johnson. He realised this ambition the following year when he met Johnson in a Covent Garden bookshop. The two men became close friends despite having differing views on topics such as the slave trade. Boswell called Johnson’s views against the slave trade ‘zeal without knowledge’ and published an anti-abolitionist poem No Abolition of Slavery; Or the Universal Empire of Love in 1791. Nevertheless, Boswell is chiefly remembered for another work published in 1791, his acclaimed Life of Samuel Johnson, in which the innovative use of colloquial language, conversation and short sentences helped to bring Johnson’s character to life.
by Unknown artist
stipple engraving, published 1803
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