This introductory chapter sets the scene and provides a rationale for the book as a whole. Various reasons are offered to explain why the author of such a major work as the Commentaries has yet to receive anything like adequate attention from biographers and historians. Besides reviewing Blackstone's fluctuating reputation, and the state of the currently available literature on the man and his career, there is some discussion of problems of evidence and the influence of Blackstone's own autobiographical account, as represented in the authoritative ‘Memoirs’ compiled by his brother-in-law James Clitherow. The chapter concludes with a brief outline of the book's main aims, as being in particular to provide a contextualized account of Blackstone's life, told so far as possible without the benefit of hindsight. The relationship between biographer and subject is also discussed.
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