The General Correspondence of James Boswell, 1757-1763
This volume, ninth in the Research Series of correspondence in the Yale Boswell Editions, assembles the bulk of the surviving letters between the young Boswell and his circle of friends and acquaintances in a period crucial to his personal and authorial development, up to the time he wrote his now famous journal in London in 1762-63. Opening with an exchange - rooted in his rebellious adolescent fascination with the Edinburgh theatre - with the gentleman-actor West Digges, it closes with letters written in July 1763 near the end of his second visit to London (the one in which he first met Samuel Johnson), a short time before his reluctant departure for legal study in Utrecht. The volume features centrally the correspondence between Boswell and his friend and literary collaborator Andrew Erskine (1740-93), a poet-soldier of the kind the young Boswell briefly aspired to be. Their surviving letters, printed here alongside the revised versions in the facetious Letters between the Honourable Andrew Erskine, and James Boswell, Esq.,
Boswell's first book-length publication, and the first to bear his name, offer revealingly early evidence of the kinds of selective self-revision Boswell would employ in his later writings and perfect in the Life of Johnson (1791). Overall, these letters document Boswell's fluid experiments in selfhood as he ponders his life's future possible trajectories - as soldier, lawyer, wit, author, bon-vivant, Scots laird, or M.P. Some thirty-five correspondents are represented in more than 150 letters and other documents (such as verse-epistles), comprehensively annotated to the long-established standards of the Yale Boswell Editions.