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The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

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The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

by James Boswell

  • Used
  • Very Good
  • Hardcover
  • first
Very Good
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About This Item

1791. 1st Edition, Limited Edition . Hardcover. Very Good. Complete in 2 volumes. Illustrated with frontispiece portrait of Johnson by J. Heath after Sir Joshua Reynolds, and 2 additional engraved plates. All 3 plates with imprints dated April 10, 1791. Frontispiece with the original tissue-guard intact. 4to. Bound in contemporary (circa 1800) speckled calf with gilt armorial supralibros on all 4 covers, spines with raised bands; red morocco gilt-lettered labels; small black morocco circular volume-number labels. Printed by Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly, London, 1791. First Edition. Limited to 1750 copies.

Printed on light blue paper. Vol. I has the correct give reading on page 135, line 10, generally considered the second state (although, as Pottle notes, booksellers have given this rather uninteresting point more attention than it deserves.) The copies printed on light blue paper were presumably reserved for members of the nobility: When Boswell published his The Life of Samuel Johnson, the King was sent a copy of the First Edition, printed on blue paper, dutifully inscribed by Boswell himself. (S. J. Patterson, The Royal Library. Windsor Castle. in M. L. López-Vidriero, P. M. Cátedra (eds.) El libro antiguo español, Vol. III, page 203).

This blue-paper set belonged to the distinguished British Whig statesman, William, 1st Baron Grenville, PC, FRS (1759-1834) who served as Chancellor of the University of Oxford and Prime Minister of Britain from 1806 to 1807. Each volume carries on both covers gilt-stamped armorial supralibros of William Grenville (lettered Sigill[um] W.W. Baronis Grenville Cancellarii Academie Oxoniensis), apparently dating from the period 1809-1834, when he was the Chancellor of Oxford University.

Boswell's Life of Johnson, arguably the most famous biography in any language, was first mentioned in the authors extensive diaries in March 1772, although it is likely Boswell conceived of the idea to preserve but a faint impression of Johnson (letter to Wilkes, 13 July 1765) several years before. The task, which Boswell saw as a glory to myself and a benefit to mankind, took the best part of two decades to come to fruition and was eventually published 28 years after the first meeting of the author and his subject in Thomas Davies back parlor in 1763. When The Life of Samuel Johnson was published in 1791 it at once commanded the admiration that Boswell had sought for so long, and it has since suffered no diminution. Its style was unique in that, unlike other biographies of that era, it directly incorporated conversations that Boswell had noted down at the time for his journals. He also included far more personal and human details than those to which contemporary readers were accustomed. Instead of writing a respectful and dry record of Johnsons public life in the style of the time, he painted a vivid portrait of the complete man, brought to life through a dramatic style of dialogue. It has often been described as the greatest biography ever written.

With the usual cancel leaves Mm4 in Vol. I and E3, Oo4, Qq3, Zz1 and Eee2 in Vol. II (leaf Nn1 in Vol. I does not appear to be a cancel). Bindings slightly rubbed with a few minor scratches; light wear and bumping to corners; bottom fore-corner of the front cover of Vol. I somewhat bent; joints somewhat worn with some partial superficial cracking, but all boards firmly and securely attached. Interiors with some light scattered spotting and minor foxing; a yellowish stain to page 530 in Vol. II; o/w a solid, clean, unmarked set with wide margins. A very rare blue paper copy


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George Robert Minkoff, Inc. US (US)
Bookseller's Inventory #
The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
James Boswell
J. Heath after Sir Joshua Reynolds
Contemporary (circa 1800) speckled calf with gilt armorial supralibros on all 4 covers, spines with raised bands; red morocco gi
Book Condition
Used - Very Good
Quantity Available
1st Edition, Limited Edition
Printed by Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly
Place of Publication
Date Published
0.00 lbs
Bookseller catalogs
Americana; British;
May be a multi-volume set and require additional postage.

Terms of Sale

George Robert Minkoff, Inc.

30 day return guarantee, with full refund including original shipping costs for up to 30 days after delivery if an item arrives misdescribed or damaged.Massachusetts residents must add 6.25 percent sales tax to remittances.

George Robert Minkoff, Inc.,
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Tel: 413-528-4575.
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About the Seller

George Robert Minkoff, Inc.

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2018
Great Barrington, Massachusetts

About George Robert Minkoff, Inc.

Early Printing, Literature and Illustrated Books.. By appointment only.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in...
Calf or calf hide is a common form of leather binding. Calf binding is naturally a light brown but there are ways to treat the...
First Edition
In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in...
Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye. (see also...
Very generally, "leaves" refers to the pages of a book, as in the common phrase, "loose-leaf pages." A leaf is a single sheet...
Partially chipped (dustjacket)
When a book is described as being inscribed, it indicates that a short note written by the author or a previous owner has been...
Second State
used in book collecting to refer to a first edition, but after some change has been made in the printing, such as a correction,...
An abbreviation for otherwise

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