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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Boswell Life of Samuel Johnson

James Boswell’s name has become a byword for his occupation. For something to be Boswellian, or for someone to be a Boswell, is for that thing or person to be an attentive, observant companion. This is the exact role Boswell takes up in his brilliant biography of Samuel Johnson. Just as Boswell himself has become an icon of the English language, so has Johnson. As the compiler and lexicographer of one of the first and most popular dictionaries of all time, A Dictionary of the English Language, and as a novelist, Johnson stands as one of the most remarkable and legendary figures of the early modern period. For Boswell to take on the momentous task of writing the biography or such a larger-than-life man is remarkable; more remarkable still is that the result, The Life of Samuel Johnson, remains one of the absolute classics of the biography genre.

It is still possible to find copies of the very first edition of this book (Charles Dilly: London, 1791). They are quite valuable, selling from around $2,500 up to $15,000. Subsequent editions, such as a 1793 edition from the same publishing house, are slightly less valuable. Dilly’s 1793 edition is valued around just under $2,000. Nineteenth century editions, including an 1835 publication by London’s John Murray, are even more affordable, generally available for around $1,000. If you are seeking a copy valued under $1,000, you may be best-served in looking at late nineteenth and early twentieth century editions as well as older editions in less than good condition.

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly: London (1791). 1750 copies; 2 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. John Chambers: Dublin (1792). 3 volumes; First Dublin Edition

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly: London (1793). Second Edition; 3 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. Baldwin and Son: London (1799). First Malone Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. Strand: London (1804). Fourth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1807). Fifth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. W. Andrews and L. Blake: Boston (1807). First U.S. Edition; 3 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. T.Cadell and W.Davies: London (1811). Sixth Edition; 4 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. Limited Editions Club: London (1938). 3 volumes; 1500 copies; Introduction by E. G. Fletcher

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. The Heritage Press: New York (1963). 3 volumes

Boswell, James. The Life of Samuel Johnson. Franklin Library: Franklin Center, PA (1983). 3 volumes; Edited by R. W. Chapman, Revised by J. D. Fleemanl