BOSWELL, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Comprehending An Account of his Studies and Numerous Works, in Chronological Order, A Series of his Epistolary Correspondence and Conversations with Many Eminent Persons; And various Original Pieces of his composition, never before published. The Whole exhibiting a View of Literature and Literary Men in Great Britain, for near half a Century, during which he flourishes. In Two Volumes. By James Boswell, Esq. … Volume The First. [Second.]

London: Printed by Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly, in The Poultry. MDCCXCI

[with tipped in Boswell autograph]

£ 18,000

FIRST EDITION, Second issue (reading “give” spelled correctly on p.135). 2 Volumes. 4to. Vol. 1: Engraved frontispiece portrait. (2), iv-xii, (8), 516 pp.; [A4], [-2], A-B4, B-Zz4, 3A-3T4, 3U2; Vol. 2: (2), 588 pp. [A]2, B-4E4, 4F1. [A]1 blank. Engraved plates facing N2v (p. 92) and 4F1v (p. 588). Vol. 2 lacking initial blank; occasional marginal pencil notes (vol. 2). Small leather bookplate of Barton Currie to front pastedowns of both volumes; small newspaper clipping pasted to rear pastedown (vol. 2). Occasional faint spotting; untrimmed pages. Contemporary original marbled paper boards with contemporary brown calf spine; original red morocco spine labels with gilt lettering; insignificant light rubbing; hinges a little tender. Housed in a modern morocco-backed drop-back box. A fine copy.

Rothschild 463.

Untrimmed and in a beautiful and extremely well-preserved contemporary binding, this is a superb and exquisite FIRST EDITION of one of the most famous literary biographies ever published. It comes from the collection of the prominent American journalist and avid and distinguished bibliophile Barton Currie.

This attractive copy includes the wonderful engraved portrait of Johnson made by J. Heath after the famous painting by Joshua Reynolds and two other beautifully engraved plates – a facsimile of Johnson’s handwriting and a “Round Robin” with facsimiles of signatures.

Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson is considered by some as one of the greatest biographies ever written in the English language. Boswell’s personal acquaintance with Johnson began in 1763, and the author covered the entirety of Johnson’s life by means of additional research. The biography does indeed take many critical liberties with Johnson’s life, since Boswell makes some changes to Johnson’s quotations and even censors many comments. This is why some contemporary critics have stated that it cannot be considered a proper biography.

However, the book is valued as both an important source of information on Johnson and his times, as well as an important work of English literature.