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Boswell’s Quill

11 September 2021 (10am-4pm)

12 September 2021 (2pm-4pm)


The first landmark in Scotland commemorating the great biographer James Boswell

In 2020 The Boswell Trust erected a bronze feather writing quill in Auchinleck graveyard.  Commissioned in 2016, the original artists’ brief was to create a landmark and orientation point for visitors to Auchinleck’s historic graveyard that would balance the tall gothic war memorial alongside it in the oval of lawn between the new and old churches.  From an invited shortlist, the sculptor, Harry Gray, came up with the winning idea of a Quill, producing a quick sketch drawn from an actual goose feather.  The 4.2m high Quill leans against a Scottish pink sandstone inkwell topped with a circle of slate that turns black as ink in the rain.  On one side of the Quill is reproduced the entry from Boswell’s original hand-written Journal describing his first meeting with Dr Johnson on 16th May 1763 at Thomas Davies’s bookshop in Covent Garden, London – a meeting which would change the course of literary history.

The Boswell Trust is indebted to Ayrshire LEADER for their funding in helping place Auchinleck in its rich cultural and social history and, together with The Boswell Book Festival, at the heart of the art of biography and memoir.   Finnis Scott, the Pilgrim Trust and several generous anonymous donors also supported the project.


The Quill takes centre stage in the re-landscaped Auchinleck historic Churchyard with its newly planted borders, spring bulbs and avenue of yew trees.  Visitors can learn more about the people of Auchinleck and the Boswell family interred there by following the trails recently created.  Trail leaflets can be found in the leaflet holders.  

Key Information

  • Auchinleck Kirkyard, Auchinleck Parish Church
  • Church Hill
  • East Ayrshire
  • KA18 2AB