Boswell’s first mention of his plan to become Johnson’s biographer occurred on this date, March 31, in 1772. It’s as though he had to formally announce his intentions to himself before revealing them to his subject. Boswell writes:
“I have a constant plan to write the life of Mr. Johnson. I have not told him of it yet; nor do I know if I should tell him. I said that if it was not troublesome and presuming too much I would beg of him to tell me all the little circumstances of his life, what schools he attended, when he came to Oxford, when he came to London, etc. etc. He did not disapprove of my curiosity as to these particulars, but said, `They’ll come out by degrees.’”
The world’s greatest biography, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., was published in 1791, seven years after Johnson’s death.