Samuel Johnson and James Boswell spent the autumn of 1773 touring the Highlands and the Western Islands of Scotland. Both kept detailed notes of their impressions and later published separate accounts of their journey together. The account of their great tour is one of the finest pieces of travel writing ever produced: it is a magnificent historical document and also a portrait of two extraordinary personalities.
In the vivid prose of theses two famous men of letters, the Highlands and the Western Islands spring to life. The juxtaposition of the two very different accounts creates an unsurpassed portrait of a society which was utterly alien to the Europe of the Enlightenment, and straining on the brink of calamitous change. This great masterpiece, entertaining, profound, and marvellously readable is also our last portrait of a lost age and people.
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) is perhaps best known for his A Dictionary of the English Language, and The Lives of the English Poets. He was an essayist and review-writer, and produced important records of parliamentary debates. Johnson was a critical and fascinating chronicler of his time. Journey to the Hebrides: A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland & The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell was published by Canongate in 2001. James Boswell (1740 -1795), the son of an Ayrshire judge, was also an essayist and a member of Johnson's Literary Club (others included Goldsmith and Adam Smith). This ambitious and volatile man was certainly an intriguing character and an important portraitist, but is widely recognised as the author of the vivid The Life of Samuel Johnson.