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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Boswell, James

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BOSWELL, JAMES, a Scotch biographer; the eldest son of Lord Auchinleck, one of the Supreme Judges of Scotland, born in Edinburgh, Oct. 29, 1740. He was educated at Edinburgh and Cambridge, became a member of the Scottish bar, but rarely practiced. In 1763 he became acquainted with Dr. Johnson—a circumstance which he himself calls the most important event of his life. In 1768, when Corsica attracted much attention, he published his account of Corsica, with “Memoirs of Paoli.” In 1785 he settled at London, and was called to the English bar. Being on terms of the closest intimacy with Dr. Johnson, he carefully recorded his sayings, opinions, and actions, for future use in a biography. In 1773 he accompanied Johnson on a tour to the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides, publishing an account of the excursion after their return. His “Life of Samuel Johnson,” one of the best pieces of biography in the language, was published in 1791. He died in London, May 19, 1795. His son, Alexander, born in 1775, created a Baronet in 1821, killed in a duel in 1822, excelled as a writer of Scotch humorous songs.