For over two centuries Boswell's massive biography of Samuel Johnson has been both reverenced and reviled. Yet neither its admirers nor its critics have fully understood how the book was designed to work upon them. Boswell himself is partly to blame: throughout the Life he directs attentionaway from artistry to industry, from creative choices to dedicated researches. Yet his working manuscript, one of the twentieth century's greatest literary discoveries, tells a much different tale. Designing the Life of Johnson, the first study of its kind, reconstructs Boswell's models and methodsby charting this textual labyrinth. It begins by analysing the stages that led to the first edition, goes on to reveal the impact of portrait and theatre-piece upon the structure of the Life, and ends by uncovering the transformation of Johnson from savage into sage. The result is a more subtle,more vital assessment of Boswell the designer - and an enhanced awareness of biography's power to make life into art.