Know Your History – 18th September – Samuel Johnson born

know your history - writingOn this day… 18th September, 1709 – Samuel Johnson born

Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 – 13 December 1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”.

On Writing

After working as a teacher Johnson moved to London, where he began to write for The Gentleman’s Magazine. His early works include the biography Life of Mr Richard Savage, the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, and the play Irene.

After nine years of work, Johnson’s A Dictionary of the Samuel johnson - a writer begins a book - a reader finishesEnglish Language was published in 1755. It had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship”. This work brought Johnson popularity and success. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson’s was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary.

In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson described their travels in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, a collection of biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets.

 Did You Know?..

Johnson’s heir was his servant (a former slave) Francis Barber

Barber joined Johnson’s household as a servant. He lived with Johnson for more than 30 years, as did his wife and children, and became Johnson’s heir.

For other interesting facts about Samuel Johnsons dictionary head over to: http://interestingliterature.com/2015/04/15/interesting-facts-about-samuel-johnsons-dictionary/

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