The Maker of Modern Lives
James Boswell, Biographer 1740-1795
The Maker of Modern Lives
James Boswell, Biographer 1740-1795

As author of the Life of Dr Johnson, Boswell invented the art of modern biography; his tour to the Hebrides and his account of Corsica established him as one of the earliest travel writers; and his rediscovered journals first published in the 1950s turned him into a twentieth-century literary sensation.

The Boswell Quill in Auchinleck Churchyard, where James Boswell and his immediate family are buried, orientates visitors on their discovery of the churchyard trails and celebrates the universal power of the written word.

‘Boswell is the first of biographers. He has no second.’ Thomas Babington Macaulay.

The Boswell Trust acknowledges the contribution of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) to the creation of the Boswell project in Auchinleck graveyard.

Boswell's Quill
The Boswell Quill

Bill Paterson reads excerpts from James Boswell's books and journals

The much-loved Scottish actor, known to many through his recent roles in Shetland, Fleabag, Guilt and Rebecca as well as through his narration of numerous TV and radio programmes including being the voice of BBC 1’s ‘The Repair Shop’ and the reading of his own classic childhood memoir Tales from the Back Green, will be reading excerpts from James Boswell’s most enduring books and journals, including An Account of Corsica and Tour to the Hebrides – which was recently the inspiration behind the Sky Arts programmes with Frank Skinner and Denise Mina.

While The Life of Samuel Johnson has never been out of print since its publication in 1791, Boswell’s numerous other writings have been less accessible to the reading public. Yale University, where the Boswell archive is held, have been engaged in a monumental campaign to publish the complete Boswell papers and one of their greatest triumphs was the publication in 1950 of Boswell’s youthful London Journal 1762-1763 which became an international bestseller.

The starting point for exploration of the newly landscaped churchyard, is the square neo-classical mausoleum, enlarged in 1754, attached to the original seventeenth-century old kirk, where Boswell and his immediate family are buried.

Visitors are offered mapped trails of the churchyard, which tell the history of Auchinleck and its people – from every walk of life.  And take time to enjoy Scotland Boswell’s Quill, created by sculptor Harry Gray, which is destined to become a unique landmark renowned throughout Ayrshire and beyond.  

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