"An honourable and reverend friend speaking of the favourable reception of my volumes, even in the circles of fashion and elegance, said to me, 'you have made them all talk Johnson.'--Yes, I may add, I have Johnsonised the land; and I trust they will not only talk, but think, Johnson." -James Boswell
"Were I to detail the books which I have consulted, and the inquiries which I have found it necessary to make by various channels, I should probably be thought ridiculously ostentatious." -James Boswell, Advertisement for The Life of Johnson, 1791.
"The Life of Johnson is assuredly a great, a very great work. Homer is not more decidedly the first of heroic poets, Shakespeare is not more decidedly the first of dramatists, Demosthenes is not more decidedly the first of orators, than Boswell is the first of biographers." -Thomas Babington Macaulay
FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE of the most famous and most beloved biography in the English language. One of only 1750 copies of the first edition printed (both first and second states combined).
"Anyone interested in biography soon becomes interested in Boswell's Life of Johnson. It stands next to other biographies as Shakespeare stands beside other playwrights: towering above them all. For more than two centuries it has been continually in print, and in that time it has won innumerable admirers. No other biography has given so much pleasure; no other biographer has created such a vivid central character. It has become a truism that, as a result of Boswell's extraordinary book, Samuel Johnson is better known to us than any other man in history" (Sisman, Boswell's Presumptuous Task, xv).
First state, with “gve” on page 135 of Volume I.
London: Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly, 1791. Folio, contemporary tree calf rebacked with most of original spines laid down. Two volumes. With engraved frontispiece portrait of Johnson by Heath after Reynolds, and two engraved plates in vol. 2. A few scuffs to boards, text very clean with only occasional light foxing. A beautiful set, rare in this condition and in such handsome bindings.
Price: $7,800 .