The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. and The Principal Corrections and Additions to the First Edition of Mr Boswell's Life of Dr Johnson


London: Printed by Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly. 1791 and 1793.

"The Life": first edition. Two Volumes. 4to (272x210mm). pp. xii, [16], 516: [2], 588 [i.e. 586]; [2], 1-42. In volume I, duplicates of pp153-56 and pp. 157-60 are bound between pp146-47 and pp150-51 respectively but it is complete. The scarce "Corrections and Additions" are bound in at the end of volume II. Engraved frontispiece portrait by J. Heath from Reynolds's portrait. Two plates with facsimiles of Johnson's handwriting in volume II (between pp92-3 and after final page). "give" is correctly spelt at line 10 of p135 of volume I but other misprints usually attributed to the first issue are uncorrected so this is a mixed first and second issue. However, the better (i.e. Pottle's) view is that the misprints or corrections simply reflect the states for individual sheets and one cannot, from these, assert an issue priority for any copy as a whole. The folding map of Scotland from the Tour of the Hebrides has been bound into volume I. Front pastedown of both volumes has book labels of James Mill London (not that Mill, sadly), B. and M. Leslie and the ownership inscription of J. Innes. Bound in contemporary speckled calf, flat spine with black morocco label lettered in gilt, joints strengthened. Some slight scratching to the covers. Housed in brown cloth covered box with a little rubbing and scuffing to the extremities. Internally, there is a little foxing in places but otherwise this is a very good copy of
perhaps the most celebrated biography in English. Macaulay famously described Boswell as "the first of biographers", pre-eminent in his field as Homer, Shakespeare and Demosthenes are in theirs. Indeed. That Johnson, his own works so rarely read now, has such a vivid place in our minds is due entirely to this brilliant work.

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