Boswell's Life


James Boswell. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. London: C. Dilly, 1791. John Wilkes’s copy. *2003J-JBL3

John Wilkes's copy of the Life records a somewhat more explicit version of an anecdote reported by Boswell. In the published version, Johnson tells David Garrick "I'll come no more behind your scenes, David; for the silk stockings and white bosoms of your actresses excite my amorous propensities." Wilkes has added a footnote reading " make my genitals to quiver was Johnson’s phrase, as Garrick told Mr. W." In fact, Boswell recorded the incident in much this form in the manuscript of the Life, but chose to soften it in the published version.