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The Boswell Book Festival

May 18, 2011

George Willison, James Boswell, 1740 - 1795. Diarist and biographer of Dr Samuel Johnson

No teenager should ever be told about James Boswell. He did everything his sober, sensible father, the judge Lord Auchinleck, told him not to do to become one of the most famous Scots in history. He bunked off university, was a serial philanderer, spent too much on art and wrote the greatest biography in the English language. And who now remembers Lord Auchinleck? It is a great thing that the first Boswell Book Festival has been organised and will run this weekend at Auchinleck House near Cumnock in Ayrshire. And good too that our wonderful portrait of the writer is being used to promote the festival.

George Willison painted Boswell in 1765 when they were both in Rome.  Boswell was campaigning for Corsican independence at the time and wears the island’s national costume in our painting.  You can see Boswell’s portrait in the refurbished Portrait Gallery when it opens on the 30th November 2011.

I’ve bought a ticket to hear the great American scholar Gordon Turnbull from Yale University talk on Sunday. James and Caroline Knox who are the festival organisers have brought together a dazzling cast of speakers.  Don’t miss it!

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