The Correspondence of James Boswell with James Bruce and Andrew Gibb, Overseers of the Auchinleck Estate
Hankins and Strawhorn provide rich annotation for the 207 letters between Bruce and Boswell and the ninety-three letters between Gibb and Boswell, but the volume potentially sheds light on many matters beyond the affairs of these three men. What was it like to live in such a rural setting? How did the practice of agriculture change and develop during this period? What were the financial arrangements on such an estate? How were violations of the law handled? What was the level of literacy? How did people amuse themselves? What was their political awareness and involvement? Clues to the answers to these and many other questions can be found in this volume, which is made more accessible by a glossary, maps, a very detailed index, rosters of the Bruce and Gibb families, and an excellent introduction. One must marvel at the dedication of Hankins, who began work on the volume forty years ago, and Strawhorn, who joined her in 1962 - and lament that neither saw its publication.