Andrew Lycett

No More Respected and More Read than Johnson

Boswell's Presumptuous Task


Hamish Hamilton 392pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

‘I merely attend to the progress of my Life of Johnson’, wrote James Boswell in his journal on the eve of his fiftieth birthday in 1790. Every biographer knows that feeling: when you are in the middle of your work, perhaps at that crucial stage when you lie awake at night, wrestling with a mass of disparate detail, and finally begin to feel that a convincing picture of your biographical quarry is emerging. Then everything else goes out of the window.

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