James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck (October 29, 1740 - May 19, 1795) was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland; he is best known for his biography of Samuel Johnson. His name has passed into the English language as a term (Boswell, Boswellian, Boswellism) for a constant companion and observer.
Boswell is also known for the detailed and frank journals that he wrote for long periods of his life, which remained undiscovered until the 1920s. These included voluminous notes on the grand tour of Europe that he took as a young man and, subsequently, of his tour of Scotland with Johnson. His journals also record meetings and conversations with eminent individuals belonging to The Club, including Lord Monboddo, David Garrick, Edmund Burke, Joshua Reynolds and Oliver Goldsmith. His written works focus chiefly on others, but he was admitted as a good companion and accomplished conversationalist in his own right.
Boswell was born near St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh on 29 October 1740. He was the eldest son of a judge, Alexander Boswell, 8th Laird of Auchinleck and his wife Euphemia Erskine; he inherited his father’s estate Auchinleck in Ayrshire. Boswell's mother was a strict Calvinist, and he felt that his father was cold to him. As a child, he was delicate and suffered from some type of nervous ailment which appeared to be inherent and would afflict him sporadically all through his life. At the age of five, he was sent to James Mundell's academy, an advanced institution by the standards of the time, where he was instructed in English, Latin, writing and arithmetic. Boswell was unhappy there, and his sickliness began to manifest itself in the physical indicants associated with night fears and extreme shyness.