ISBuC (v7) 2012
Boswell & Johnson
'James Boswell (1740 - 1795) & Samuel L Johnson (1709 - 1784)'

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On the 14th August 1773 James Boswell and Samuel L Johnson set off on an 83 day tour of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland aiming to spend a great deal of that time in Skye. They recorded their travels and made observations and comparisons of the people and their situation with the civilised society of their day. This was a period of immense social and economic change. The Highland Clearances were just beginning.

Johnson, aged 63, already well known for his 'Dictionary of the English Language (1755)' and as an author, playwright and editor, was in poor health. He was seeking proof to support his theories on the human condition.

Boswell, aged 32, had previously published 'An Account of Corsica (1768)' but was still relatively unknown. He benefited greatly from being seen in the company of such a great man.

The results of their partnership were two of the most important literary works of the age.

Johnson's 'A journey to the Western Isles of Scotland' was a formal and sombre look at the western isles and its people combined with serious philosophical insight.

Boswell's 'Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1785)' was a warm, friendly and often humorous collection highlighting the more human and down to earth aspect of their travels.