Postcards from a Hanging: James Boswell

“Today when we think of James Boswell (1740-95), later Lord Auchinleck, we think of his biography of Dr Samuel Johnson or the revealing diary he kept as a young man. During his lifetime, Boswell was principally known as a journalist-cum-commentator. This volume contains articles, essays, reportage, satirical columns and letters to the press dealing with matters of justice, politics, high society, traveller’s tales and literary disputes.

While not the microcosm of his age that his diaries are, Facts and Inventions: Selections from the Journalism of James Boswell sheds light on the period and the author’s main concerns, namely law, politics, the Corsican struggle for independence from France, and the life of Dr Johnson. The facts and inventions in the title refer to Boswell’s categorisation of cuttings he preserved in scrapbooks. He divided them into reportage of actual facts and diverting inventions. The inventions are humorous tales, barbs directed at rivals and snippets designed to maintain the public’s attention on his books.

The 133 pieces run from brief paragraphs to full articles, and span the period 1758-1794. Most have never been reprinted since their appearance in magazines and journals…”

Read the full review on SPIKED, 12 September 2014 here: