Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson

b. 1709 d. 1784


Condemn’d to hope’s delusive mine, as on we toil from day to day, by sudden blasts, or slow decline, our social comforts drop away. - Samuel Johnson 'On the death of Dr Robert Levet'


About Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson is a towering figure in the history of English literature, to the extent that the second half of the eighteenth century has sometimes been described as ‘the age of Johnson’. He was a poet, journalist, lexicographer, critic, essayist, biographer and compiler, over eight years, of The Dictionary of the English Language, which he completed with the help of six assistants.

After the death of his wife in 1752, Johnson’s London household included a variety of domestic servants and companions. His financial position was always precarious, in spite of the success of the Dictionary, but this changed when he was awarded a government pension in 1762.

In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, a Scottish lawyer whose Life of Johnson contributed to Johnson’s fame and reputation when it was published after Johnson’s death. They travelled together in the Scottish Highlands and both wrote entertaining accounts of their expedition.