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MS Hyde 2

Boswell, James, 1740-1795. James Boswell letters: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Hyde 2
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Boswell, James, 1740-1795.
Title: James Boswell letters,
Date(s): 1762-1795.
Quantity: 1 collection (2 boxes (1 linear ft.)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Letters written by biographer James Boswell to a variety of correspondents.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

*2003JM-56. Bequest of Mary Hyde Eccles, Four Oaks Farm, Somerville, New Jersey; received: 2004.

Custodial History:

Most of this collection was gathered by collector Robert Borthwick Adam (1863-1940). The R.B. Adam collection was acquired by Donald and Mary Hyde in 1948. The Hydes collected some additional Boswell letters over the following decades. Mary Hyde, Viscountess Eccles, bequeathed the papers to the Houghton Library in 2003 as part of the Hyde Collection.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Rick Stattler

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

James Boswell Letters (MS Hyde 2). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

The bulk of the James Boswell papers are at Yale University.

Biographical / Historical

James Boswell (1740-1795) was the author of one of the most influential biographies in the English language, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. He also wrote two successful travel books: An Account of Corsica, and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. He worked intermittently as a lawyer, and in 1782 succeeded his father as Laird of Auchinleck in Scotland.


Most of these letters were published in the two-volume Letters of James Boswell, Chauncey Brewster Tinker, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924). Many of them have also appeared in the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell, of which eight Research Edition volumes of correspondence have been released by various editors from 1966 to 1998, with more planned. Fourteen of the letters in this collection were not published in Tinker or in the first eight volumes of the Yale Editions, although some have been published in other sources.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 74 letters and notes written by Boswell between 1762 and 1790, and two early manuscript transcripts of Boswell letters. Noteworthy correspondents include Horace Walpole, and much of Samuel Johnson's famous literary circle: David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, Bennet Langton, Edmond Malone, Thomas Percy, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and Johnson himself.

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