The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides Background

The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides Background

The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LLD, was written by Scotsman James Boswell. It is a travel journal that was published in 1785. It documents a trip that Boswell took with his English friend Samuel Johnson whom Boswell persuaded to travel with him on his tour of the western islands and the highlands of Scotland. Johmson is not known as a traveled but as the writer of his Dictionary and other literary works. The two friends set out from the city of Edinburgh and passed through St. Andrews, Inverness and Aberdeen on route to the highlands where they spent almost a month in the Hebrides. Boswell had a family estate at Auchineieck so the men stayed there for an unspecified length of time before returning to their starting point of Edinburgh.

Johnson published The Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland on January 18th, 1775. It was immediately devoured by the reading public and immediately criticized as well. One particular point of contention was Johnson's insinuations that the in vogue Ossian poems were in fact not authentic. This was the first book that detailed their travels and after Johnson's death in 1784, Boswell published the journal he kept during the Hebridean portion of their journey.

Boswell ultimately produced a biography of his friend, the Life of Samuel Johnson. This is widely recognized as the best biography written in the English language. His diaries made him so well known that his name became part of the English language and the term "Boswellian" refers to the act of being a companion and observer. He is even mentioned by Sherlock Homes who says that Dr Watson is "my Boswell".

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