English Writer: Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson was born on the 18th September 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire.  Samuel was first born to parents Michael Johnson, bookseller and magistrate and Sarah Ford.

Johnson lived with shelves full of books, and found much enjoyment in reading, and his interest developed whilst attending Lichfield and Stourbridge Grammar Schools.  In 1728 he studied languages and law at Pembroke College, Oxford until 1731, with the death of his father.  With limited funds with no completed training, sought a position as a teacher.  Unable to find permanent teaching position, drifted into a writing career.

On the 9th July 1735 married Elizabeth ‘Tetty’ Jervis nee Porter, twenty years his senior at St.Werburgh’s Church in Derby.

Leaving Elizabeth and her three children behind, travelled to London to further his education.  After a short time was joined in London by Elizabeth his wife.  With little money in his pocket, he sought employment at the “Gentlemen’s Magazine,” and was hired by publisher Edward Cave in 1738 as a journalist, and also worked for “The Adventurer 1752-1754” and “The Idler 1758-1760.”

In 1747 having acquired a literary reputation, was commissioned to write the “Dictionary of the English Language” which was published on the 15th April 1755.

Elizabeth his beloved wife had died in 1752, and Francis Barber, a former Jamaican slave joined his household as a servant.

In 1762, Samuel Johnson received an annual pension of £300 from King George III of England.

James Boswell a Scottish lawyer met Johnson, and in 1773 the pair spent three months travelling across Scottish Highland and Hebrides, each writing accounts on their travels.  Johnson became leader of London’s Literary World, and friend to many notable artists and writers.

Samuel Johnson died on the 13th December 1784, and was buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Selection of Samuel Johnson Publications:

Biography: Richard Savage – 1744

Biography: Life of Edward Cave – 1752

Dictionary of English Language – 1755

Political: The False Alarm – 1770

Fairy Tale: The Fountains – 1766

Poem: London – 1738

The Patriot – 1774

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