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London Journal, 1762-1763 (Boswell's Journals)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  440 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
In 1762 James Boswell, then twenty-two years old, left Edinburgh for London. The famous Journal he kept during the next nine months is an intimate account of his encounters with the high-life and the low-life in London. Frank and confessional as a personal portrait of the young Boswell, the Journal is also revealing as a vivid portrayal of life in eighteenth-century London ...more
Paperback, 412 pages
Published July 11th 2004 by Yale University Press (first published 1763)
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Aug 11, 2008 Eric rated it liked it
This journal could furnish incidents enough for several bawdy plays—one might be Louisa; or, Boswell Aflame, Inflam’d:

25 December
The night before I did not rest well. I was really violently in love with Louisa. I thought she did not care for me. I thought that if I did not gain her affections, I would appear despicable to myself.

2 January
I approached Louisa with an uneasy tremor. I sat down. I toyed with her. Yet I was not inspired by Venus. I felt a rather delicate sensation of love than a vio
Justin Evans
Feb 18, 2015 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, essays
Glorious stuff if you're into the 18th century, probably quite impenetrable if not, though Boswell is surely one of the greatest characters in literary history. Here we have him in all his youthful folly, living through what Sheridan quotes Fielding calling "a trifling age," (50), and doing a good deal of trifling himself. He flits between deep piety and evenings with prostitutes. He records: "I see too far into the system of things, to be much in earnest. I consider Mankind in general & the ...more
Dec 05, 2011 umberto rated it really liked it
Shelves: journal
I think anyone interested in the great Dr Samuel Johnson, in other words, in reading his biography "Life of Johnson" by James Boswell needs to spare his/her time in reading this unthinkable journal written in 1762-1763. Of course, we sometime find reading his narrative a bit hard to understand but please don't be intimidated, keep going and soon you'd find something amusing, inspiring, informative, etc. in his unique life and London in the 18th century and this journal definitely recorded how he ...more
Kirsten Mortensen
Feb 20, 2013 Kirsten Mortensen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves the classics
I wanted a print book to take along on a trip, for the plane ride. Something paperback (so not too heavy) and long enough that it would last, even if I ended up with a lot of reading time.

This is the book I pulled from my TBR shelf.

But when I first started reading it, I thought, "I'm not going to be able to finish." It is a journal, after all. And who are all these people? They mean nothing to me . . .

But after I'd finished the first 30 pages or so, I found myself enjoying it -- so much so that
Oct 25, 2013 Noelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This fabulously bawdy, mischievous, arrogant journal is the pride and joy of its author, James Boswell (future biographer of Samuel Johnson, but for now an immature youth). We enter his life just after his 22nd birthday, on the brink of his move to London. He’s visited before and was intrigued (even after his little bout of VD from a lady of the night under Waterloo Bridge). He moves to London and sets up his life among society’s most elite.

Boswell’s life is the perf
Jun 11, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Boswell, twenty-two year old Edinburgh gentleman, kept a daily diary of his adventurous stay in London from 1762 to 1763. Unknown for 150 years, the journal is a witty and detailed account of his adventures in the theaters, coffee-houses, and salons of Georgian London. His entries provide endless entertainment, and present a picture of London life that is vibrant and quite frequently shocking. Boswell recounts, among other things, his first meeting with Samuel Johnson, and his many visits ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In which young Jamie Boswell dissipates himself in London against his father’s wishes, sows his oats, gets the clap, drinks lots of tea, fails to obtain a post in the army and finally meets the venerable Dr. Johnson – all in the familiar haunts of the cities of Westminster and London, from St. James’s Park to St. Paul’s Churchyard.
Mar 25, 2009 Celeste rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio
Young Boswell strikes out to make a life for himself in London. Along the way he discovers some of the painful lessons of life. Such as: sometimes your father really does know best, never try to get a favor out of an "important person," the importance of forging strong friendships, and, ultimately, don't keep hooking up with loose women in the park. Some of the minutia of his life are a little tedious (much like reading most blogs), and the highlights of conversions can be very hard to follow. B ...more
Will Miller
Jun 18, 2009 Will Miller rated it liked it
Lots of salubrious details in this little volume (a bestseller upon its release, believe it or not), but I found it pretty dull going on the whole. If you are in love with the hypocritical, theatrical, megalomaniacal, shameless sponge who wrote it, you'll probably like it.
Avis Black
Jun 24, 2008 Avis Black rated it did not like it
I have tried to read this book more than once, but Boswell--when he is his normal, unguarded self--comes across as the most excruciating little narcissistic prick you've ever discovered between the pages of a journal.
Sam Pryce
Nov 04, 2016 Sam Pryce rated it liked it
Boswell's often bawdy and frank journal evokes eighteenth-century London's anonymity, diversity, academia and debauchery. He draws attention to the ways in which the city allows us to assume roles and personas to act upon our basest desires, detailing his disguised exploits with prostitutes or long nights of boozy excess. There are, as you would expect, a lot of dull, boring entries, but amongst these are little nuggets of wisdom that latch upon the way London shapes our identities.
Feb 20, 2017 Amalie rated it liked it

I was never a fan of Boswell and, after reading many sections of this for academic purposes, I'm still not a fan. Some aspects of his personality aren't very likeable. I read this and gave it 3 stars for its authentic descriptions of the life in the 1760's in London.
Aug 06, 2009 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I think this compact memoir by James Boswell is still interesting, informative and entertaining since the author himself wrote to record his views as seen and perceived during his literally adventurous and romantic stay in London. Indeed what he wrote seemed a bit remote to us in the 21st century, however, the two years above by the book title was somewhere toward the end of the 18th one. Therefore, make it simple by elementary subtraction, i.e. 21-18 = 3, so he wrote this book roughly three cen ...more
This looked daunting, but it's not, really. You can be as ignorant of eighteenth-century life and literature as I am and still enjoy it, if enjoy is the right word. Because Boswell is not someone you look to for beautiful passages and ageless wisdom. Boswell is someone you read and go, "Jamie! Oh, God, don't do that!" He is very much the egocentric, pretentious, unformed, pushy, horny and crass twenty-two year-old looking for a father figure that he seems to be. He's also great at assembling his ...more
Nov 08, 2007 Antoinette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love what the editor did with this book. The footnotes and profiles of the people mentioned in Boswell's daily journal are very amusing.

I have not read Boswell's biography of Johnson- of dictionary fame- I don't know if I will.

I enjoy the idea of someone's (in this case Boswell's) journal manuscript surviving for over 250 years, which was sent by messenger to a friend weekly!

Reading someone's journal about their religious experiences, desires, aversions, and minutia of daily life, while givi
Apr 17, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it
A much more entertaining book than the The Life of Samuel Johnson. Reading between the lines, it's fairly easy to see why many of Johnson's circle thought Boswell an idiot—because he was one. He simply happened to be an idiot gifted at writing biography. One tip of the hat I can give him here is that Boswell omits nothing, save perhaps little facts that we know and he does not, such he is the person transmitting VD—not the poor actress he accuses of it.
Tommy Powell
Aug 13, 2010 Tommy Powell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
If you've every enjoyed a Victorian period-piece drama this is an excellent book for a long weekend. Here are the daily writings of a "Landed Gentleman" during the reign of King George III.

"Johnson, Samuel. Englishman. Fifty-four years old. A large, ugly, slovenly, near-sighted man, his face scarred by scrofula, his body distorted by compulsive tics, his speech interspersed with absent-minded clucks and mutterings"
Nov 30, 2007 Amber rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
James Boswell (1740-1795) is best known for his "Life of Johnson" (one of the greatest biographies of all time). This particular collection of journal entries tells of his escape to London (away from Scotland and his responsibilities there). He was a particularly lively fellow and an amazing conversationalist. He also loved the ladies. I highly recommend this, especially if you are looking for something different to read.
Feb 13, 2008 joanna rated it really liked it
I had to read this for my foul, loathesome 18th century literature course in college... and it was the only book I liked all semester. Boswell's descriptions of his life as a wild and crazy guy in London (two words: "Signor Gonnorhea") keep you interested as he grows up and meets Samuel Johnson, whom he eventually biographied. (Is that a word, biographied...? Oh well.)
Jan 02, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it
Although there are parts that are kind of boring, most of this is fascinating just because it gives a picture of life in the 1760's in London. Also, Boswell was a very interesting young man. His thoughts and philosophies are profound at times, and his wavering between devout religious feelings and slightly debased thoughts are sometimes touching and sometimes funny. Overall, a good book.
Darren Davies
May 24, 2009 Darren Davies rated it really liked it
You can't put this one down. It certainly opens your eyes to the lifestyles of the nearly there in the 18C.

Boswell's no holds barred approach to recalling his adventures in London is totally unexpected. You really feel sorry for this man, who is desperate to follow his dream but inevitably doomed to live the life his father has planned for him.
Dec 23, 2013 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I guess boswell does know or knew how to write but I hated the person he was in 1762 when he wrote this and I do not believe for a minute that he was true in his writtings. The only good part of the book was the 5 page letter his father wrote him on may 30th 1763. What I did learn was who he ate breakfast with for most mornings of a 8 month period of time. wow. hated it
Jul 20, 2008 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an astonishingly chatty and frank book - quite breathtakingly so at times, seeming very modern for a book written in the 18th century. Boswell's voice here is very different from in his famous biography of Johnson, and some aspects of his personality aren't very likeable. I keep meaning to read more volumes of his journals, but haven't got round to them yet.
Dec 20, 2013 joan rated it really liked it
Glad i persevered with this, since until he meets Johnson Boswell is pretty infuriating, as he nags at various establishment figures for a cushy job in the army. Afraid of the dark, satirical, prone to large mood swings: less armylike material you will never find. But he straightens out very fast as the year goes on.
Jennifer Singleterry
I can't claim to have read all of this, but it was fun to read the thoughts of a very stupid 23-year-old dude in the 18th century. I most enjoyed his romantic escapades with Louisa and millions of other women...
Oct 09, 2009 Carol rated it liked it
I read this because it has descriptions of the 10th and 11th Earls of Eglinton (cousins to my husbands family). That was really the only reason, but I do remember being fascinated by Boswell himself and his ability to record the time in which he lived.
Royce Ratterman
Feb 07, 2016 Royce Ratterman rated it really liked it
Most books are rated related to their usefulness and contributions to my research.
Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast.
Read for personal research
- found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.
Jun 11, 2013 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a nice peak into life during mid 18th century England, by a very articulate young Boswell...often impetuous, arrogant, philosophical, political, debauched and evolving into the writer of Johnson's biography.
Sep 23, 2012 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much like Samuel Pepys's diary, this is a great window into Boswell's era. Of course, some of what he records in his journal is simply mundane detail, but you'll be amazed by the number of times he gets the clap from prostitutes.
Mar 30, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yelp for the 18th century. Fascinating for the history of the place and the time. But, like so many Yelp enthusiasts, Boswell eventually demands slapping.
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James Boswell, 10th Laird of Auchinleck and 1st Baronet was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was the eldest son of a judge, Alexander Boswell, 8th Laird of Auchinleck and his wife Euphemia Erskine, Lady Auchinleck. Boswell's mother was a strict Calvinist, and he felt that his father was cold to him. Boswell, who is best known as Samuel Johnson’s biographer, inherited h ...more
More about James Boswell...

Other Books in the Series

Boswell's Journals (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Boswell in Holland 1763-1764
  • The Journal of His German and Swiss Travels, 1764
  • Boswell on the Grand Tour: Italy, Corsica and France 1765-1766
  • Boswell in Search of a Wife, 1766–1769
  • Boswell for the Defense 1769-1774 (Private Papers of James Boswell Vol. 3)
  • Boswell: The Ominous Years, 1774–1776
  • Boswell in Extremes, 1776-78
  • Laird of Auchinleck 1778-82 (Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell)
  • Boswell, the Applause of the Jury, 1782–1785
  • The English Experiment, 1785-89

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