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informal conversation at or as if at a dining table; especially, the social talk of a celebrity recorded for publication. Collections of such conversations exist from as early as the 3rd century AD, and the term has been in use in English since about the 16th century. The practice of recording conversations and sayings of the famous became especially popular in the 17th century. This material is especially useful for biographers and can be a form of literary biography in itself. One of the best-known examples of this is James Boswell's biography of Samuel Johnson, which consists mostly of Johnson's own words reproduced by Boswell