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 exh

BOSWELL, James

IN ORIGINAL BOARDS

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 exh

Printed by Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly, in the Poultry, 1791.

First edition. Two volumes, quarto (295mm x 225mm). Original publisher's blue-grey paper boards, manuscript titles to spine. Uncut. First issue, with "gve" on page 135 of the first volume. All seven cancels present as usual, though lacking the preliminary blank in the second volume. Engraved frontispiece of the subject to volume I, engraved 'Round Robin' plate and facsimile of Johnson's handwriting to rear of volume II. A fine copy of a work rarely encountered in an original state. The boards are worn at the corners, with some soiling to the covers and minor repairs to the joints. Internally the pages are unpressed and uncut. There is a repaired closed tear to the margin of the frontispiece, very minor marginal worming from Mm-Ccc. Housed in custom made fleece-lined chemise and cloth slipcase.

The Life Of Johnson was published on 16th May 1791 priced at two guineas and issued in the blue-grey boards of the present copy. Though the first edition comprised 1,750 sets of sheets, copies in the original boards are uncommon and usually feature far more repair than in the present example.
The work was an immediate commercial success, and paved the way for modern biography. Even Thomas Macauley, who published a now infamous review of a new edition of Boswell's Life Of Johnson in 1831 that did little for either Boswell's or Johnson's nineteenth century reputation, was forced to admit that "The Life of Johnson is assuredly a great, a very great work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets, Shakspeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is the first of biographers. He has no second. He has distanced all his competitors so decidedly that it is not worth while to place them."

PROVENANCE: Viscount Birkenhead (bookplate to front pastedown of each volume); Victor Rothschild (bookplate to front free endpaper of first volume).

Pottle 79, Rothschild 463, Grolier English Literature.

Stock ID: 37692

£35,000.00

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