The Project

The Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell were established in 1949 to publish the papers in two separate editions, a popular series, known as the Trade Edition, and a comprehensive scholarly Research Edition comprising the manuscript of the Life of Johnson, the journals, the correspondence, as well as a catalog of the papers at Yale.

The first volume of the Trade Edition, the London Journal 17621763, appeared in 1950 and, surprising both its publishers at McGraw-Hill and Heinemann and its scholarly editors, became an immediate worldwide bestseller. The publication of the popular series was completed in 1989 with Boswell the Great Biographer, 17891795, the thirteenth volume of the journals. Boswell’s frank record of his private and public lifehe was as forthright about his wretched behavior as he was matter-of-fact in reporting his more admirable momentshas repelled some readers and attracted others, but rarely has it elicited indifference. 

The first of the Research Editions correspondence volumes, The Correspondence of James Boswell and John Johnston of Grange, appeared in 1966, and an additional eight volumes have been published in the ensuing years, most recently, The General Correspondence of James Boswell, 17571763, edited by David Hankins and James J. Caudle (2006). The third volume of the planned four-volume Manuscript Edition of the Life of Johnson, edited by Thomas F. Bonnell, was published in 2012.   The first in the Research Edition Journals series is James Boswell: The Journal of his German and Swiss Travels, 1764, edited by Marlies K. Danziger (2008).  The Catalogue of the Papers of James Boswell at Yale University, by Marion S. Pottle, Claude Colleer Abbott, and Frederick A. Pottle, was published in three volumes in 1993. Several future volumes of correspondence and journals are in preparation. They include The Political Correspondence of James Boswell, edited by Murray Pittock, The Correspondence of James Boswell and William Johnson Temple, 1766-1795, Vol. 2, 1777-1795, edited by Nigel Aston, James Boswell: Journals 1761-1763, edited by James J. Caudle, The Correspondence of James Boswell and Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, edited by Richard B. Sher, James Boswell: The Journal of his Travels in Italy and France, 1765-1766, edited by John A. Eglin, and Journals 1766-1769 edited by Hugh M. Milne. A complete list of the published titles appears on this website under Publications.