PRIVATE PAPERS OF JAMES BOSWELL FROM MALAHIDE CASTLE, IN ...
by Boswell, James.
Printed in an edition limited to 570 numbered copies. (Haas no.153). One could call Boswell's diaries and private journals a kind of uncompleted "Life of Boswell," related in various ways to his other biographical enterprise. Certainly Boswell's habit of collecting concepts, conversations, characters and characteristics served him well later, and also make his private writings a source of information on personalities and social life in later 18th-century England. Unfortunately, most of these writings were long lost. They began to come to light again in the mid-1920's, and in 1926 the collector Ralph Heywood Isham (1890-1955) succeeded in acquiring a large number of Boswell papers, along with publishing rights, from Boswell's reluctant descendants. More discoveries of Boswelliana and their eventual purchase by Isham followed. Yale University acquired the entire Isham Boswell collection in 1949.
Isham planned an edition from the beginning, and in 1928 engaged Geoffrey Scott as editor, W.E. Rudge to print the edition, and Bruce Rogers to design the books. Rogers describes his design in the prospectus: "I have chosen a style flexible enough to accommodate the various papers, journals and documents comprised in the collection. No special effort has been made to secure an air of antiquity, but with the importation of a recent English reproduction of John Baskerville's famous eighteenth century types it was been possible to present the text in a form typographically harmonious with Boswell's individual mode of expression. The size of the different volumes is determined, as a rule, by the dimensions of the facsimile documents..." (Blumenthal p.105).
The full set ran to eighteen volumes, published 1928-1934. G. Scott died after completion of vol. 6, and F.A. Pottle took over the editing. This set also includes The Private Papers of James Boswell... A Catalogue by Frederick A. Pottle & Marion S. Pottle, London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1931 (limited to 415 copies), Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D., New York: The Viking Press, 1936 (limited to 790 copies), Index to the Private Papers of James Boswell, London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1937 (limited to 1250 numbered copies). These three volumes are bound in a similar fashion to the eighteen volume set. Also present is the large original prospectus to the set which contains a lengthy statement by Bruce Rogers (folio, stiff red paper wrappers, 13 pages), the note that the original editor Geoffrey Scott had died (small 4to., stiff red paper wrappers, 6 pages), and Catalogue of an Exhibition of the Private Papers of James Boswell from Malahide Castle, New York: Grolier Club, 1931 (8vo., stiff paper wrappers, many pages).
There is uneven fading to the spines (remember that the set was issued over a long period of time). The supplementary volumes of 1931 and 1937 lack the slipcase.