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Watercolour of Buckingham House's East Library
The Libraries of George III

George III was a keen bibliophile


The life of Samuel Johnson comprehending an account of his studies and numerous works in chronological order, vol. I


29.5 cm (Height) x 4.0 cm (Depth) (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1121006

In 1763, the 22-year-old James Boswell met Samuel Johnson, a man over 30 years his elder, and the two soon became friends. Johnson had already enjoyed a successful career as a writer, wit and critic, publishing his seminal work, A Dictionary of the English Language to great critical praise in 1755. During their friendship, Boswell maintained an extensive journal detailing their many conversations and excursions.

Upon Johnson’s death in 1785, Boswell began to compile the information into a biography, using quotations and anecdotes from Johnson’s own papers to fill in gaps for his early life. However, the biography principally focused on the period when Boswell was closely acquainted with Johnson. When it was published in 1791, Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson was a commercial and critical success. This copy was presented by Boswell himself, who wrote a dedication to the king on the verso of the title page.

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