Biography of Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson (often referred to as Dr Johnson) (18 September 1709 – 13 December 1784) was an English author. Beginning as a Grub Street journalist, he made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, novelist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and political conservative, and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of "the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature": James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson.
Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and attended Pembroke College, Oxford for a year, before his lack of funds forced him to leave. After working as a teacher he moved to London, where he began to write essays for The Gentleman's Magazine. His early works include the biography The Life of Richard Savage, the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, and the play Irene.
After nine years of work, Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755; it had a far-reaching impact on Modern English and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship". The Dictionary 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. His later works included essays, an influential annotated edition of William Shakespeare's plays, and the widely read novel Rasselas. 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.
Johnson had a tall and robust figure, but his odd gestures and tics were confusing to some on their first encounter with him. Boswell's Life, along with other biographies, documented Johnson's behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette syndrome (TS), a condition unknown in the 18th century. After a series of illnesses he died on the evening of 13 December 1784, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. In the years following his death, Johnson began to be recognised as having had a lasting effect on literary criticism, and even as the only great critic of English literature.
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia Samuel Johnson; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA.
- On The Death Of Mr. Robert Levet, A Prac...
- Drury-lane Prologue Spoken by Mr. Garric...
- One And Twenty
- The Vanity of Human Wishes (excerpts)
- From Boethius
- The Vanity of Human Wishes: The Tenth Sa...
- A Short Song of Congratulation
- Evening Ode
- Horace: Book 1, Ode 22
- Gnothi Seauton
Alas! with swift and silent pace,
Impatient time rolls on the year;
The Seasons change, and Nature's face
Now sweetly smiles, now frowns severe.
'Twas Spring, 'twas Summer, all was gay,
Now Autumn bends a cloudy brow;
The flowers of Spring are swept away,
And Summer fruits desert the bough.