The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. - James Boswell 1900 - Macmillan and Co., London ‘To write the Life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives of others, and who, whether we consider his extraordinary endowments, or his various works, has been equalled by few in any age, is an arduous, and may be reckoned in me a presumptuous task.’ - James Boswell.

A three-volume set, finely bound by Riviére. James Boswell’s epic biography of the extraordinary life and times of Samuel Johnson, was an immediate best seller when it was first published in 1791, and later acknowledged as ‘the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature’.

‘Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigourous mind’ - Samuel Johnson.
  When The Life of Samuel Johnson first appeared in 1791, five years after Boswell had begun his monumental work, it was a popular success; but the biography also offended many of Johnson's intimates, who were mortified to see their own conversations in print and were upset by the frankness of Boswell's portrait, which included Johnson's quick temper, his laziness, his sloppy dress, his awful table manners, and even hinted at a certain sexual kinkiness. English biography was then in its infancy, and though some of its more daring practitioners (including Johnson himself, in his ‘Lives of the Poets’) had abandoned the convention of never mentioning a subject's flaws, no one had ever gone as far as Boswell, who was determined that ‘there should be shade as well as light’.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was an English poet, essayist, biographer, editor and literary critic, best known for his A Dictionary of the English Language, and his influential annotated edition of William Shakespeare’s plays. The famously eccentric and cranky Johnson was in a bookstore when he met a young man named James Boswell, on May 16, 1763.

James Boswell (1740-1795) was a Scottish lawyer and author, best known for writing his biography of contemporary literary critic Samuel Johnson. In his early 20s, Boswell had begun the habit of keeping journals (in addition to his other favourite habits of drinking and becoming far too familiar with London’s many prostitutes); many of his journals later became not only the raw material for most of Life but also the source of its structure – the way it relied, as no biography had before, on dramatic scenes and long stretches of recorded dialogue. As a result of this grand work, Boswell, in effect the father of feature journalism, for good or ill, invented the many conventions we still observe in biographies today.

Three octavo volumes (binding size 22.5 x 15 cm). pp. [2] xv [1] 533 [3]; [6] 470 [2]; [6] 522 [2].
  Bound by Riviére in three quarter red crushed morocco over matching cloth, spines tooled, lettered and ruled in gilt, top edge gilt, others trimmed, marbled endpapers.   Condition: Fine in near fine bindings with some offsetting to endpapers.   Ref: 109347   Price: HK$ 4,500