Biographies dominate the publishing industry’s bestseller lists. However biographical writing has not always enjoyed such popularity, and biographical conventions have evolved considerably over the centuries.
The modern style of biography originated in the eighteenth-century and is most closely associated with James Boswell, who undertook an extraordinary biography of his charismatic companion Samuel Johnson – poet, journalist, critic, and writer of the first English dictionary.
Warm, expansive, uncompromising, and exhaustively detailed, Boswell’s ‘Life of Samuel Johnson’ established a new way of writing biography and shaped the emergence of the biography format that is popular today.
Biographers Day commemorates the first meeting of Boswell and Johnson in 1763 in a London bookshop and it’s a great day to celebrate the genre. Why not mark Biographers Day by reading a new biography, revisting an old favourite, or perhaps even taking a look into Boswell’s ‘Life of Samuel Johnson’ itself.