Founded in 2010 by a group of literary activists, including Boswell’s senior direct descendant, Margaret Boswell Eliott, the Trust is empowered under its charitable status to promote “heritage, literary arts and education”, and specifically to restore James Boswell’s Mausoleum in Auchinleck Churchyard and to create a visitor attraction in the adjoining seventeenth century Old Church. The Boswell Trust has successfully delivered the Boswell Book Festival since 2011, now held at Dumfries House, which is recognized as a major cultural event in Scotland.
The visitor attraction has been planned in two phases.
With funding from Leader and private trusts, the graveyard has been re-landscaped and enhanced with the Boswell Quill and a network of biographical trails telling the history of Auchinleck and its people.
Fundraising is underway to restore the Boswell Mausoleum and the Old Church. The aim of the Trust is to restore these spaces as a visitor experience about James Boswell and his world, to celebrate Boswell’s literary achievements, and to enrich the social and economic life of the village of Auchinleck by recognizing its status as one of the highpoints of Ayrshire’s – and Scotland’s – cultural tourist destinations.
The Trust in Edinburgh
At the instigation of the Boswell Trust, the author’s native city, Edinburgh, added his name to those of the Scottish literary luminaries honoured with a commemorative stone in Makars’ Court, the paved area outside the Writers’ Museum in Lady Stair’s Close, described as “Edinburgh’s answer to Poets’ Corner” in Westminster Abbey. The stone, sponsored by the Boswell Trust was unveiled on October 29 (Boswell’s birthday), 2011, in a ceremony presided over by Margaret Boswell Eliott (a direct descendant of Boswell, and chief of the Clan Eliott).
The unveiling was performed by the artist, playwright, and screenwriter John Byrne, whose Boswell and Johnson’s Tour of the Western Isles (an adaptation of Boswell’s journal of his travels through the Highlands and Hebrides with Samuel Johnson) was first aired on British television in October 1993, with Johnson played by Robbie Coltrane, and with Boswell played by John Sessions.
The inscription is taken from Boswell’s London Journal, which describes his departure from Edinburgh for London in 1762: “I rattled down the high street in high elevation of spirits’.