A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland


A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775) is a travel narrative by Samuel Johnson about an eighty-three-day journey through Scotland, in particular the islands of the Hebrides, in the late summer and autumn of 1773. The sixty-three-year-old Johnson was accompanied by his thirty-two-year-old friend of many years James Boswell, who was also keeping a record of the trip, published in 1785 as A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. The two narratives are often published as a single volume, which is beneficial for comparing two perspectives of the same events, although they are very different in approach---Johnson focused on Scotland, and Boswell focused on Johnson. (Boswell went on to write a famous biography of Johnson.) In that biography, Boswell gave the itinerary of the trip as beginning at Edinburgh after landing at Berwick upon Tweed, then to St Andrews, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Fort Augustus. From there they went on to the islands of the Hebrides: Skye, Raasay, Coll, Mull, Inch Kenneth, and Iona. Returning to the mainland in Argyll they visited Inverary, Loch Lomond, Dumbarton, Glasgow, Loudoun, Auchinleck in Ayrshire (Boswell's family home), and Hamilton, and then finished the journey by returning to Edinburgh. Boswell summarised the trip as, "[Johnson] thus saw the four Universities of Scotland, its three principal cities, and as much of the Highland and insular life as was sufficient for his philosophical contemplation."
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language: English
date of publication: 1775
genre: diary


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