|About the Book|
Samuel Johnson 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 has been described as arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history. He is also the subject of one of the most celebrated biographies in English, James Boswells Life of Samuel Johnson. Boswells Life, along with other biographies, documented Johnsons behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette syndrome (TS), a condition unknown to 18th-century physicians. He presented a tall and robust figure, but his odd gestures and tics were confusing to some on their first encounter with him.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 Gentlemans Magazine. His early works include the biography The Life of Richard Savage and the poem The Vanity of Human Wishes. Johnson was a devout and compassionate man, whose Christian morality permeated his works. Although he was a conservative Anglican, he respected those of other denominations who demonstrated a commitment to Christs teachings.After nine years of work, his Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755, bringing him popularity and success- until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary, 150 years later, Johnsons was viewed as the preeminent British dictionary. In the following years, he published essays, an influential annotated edition of William Shakespeares plays, and the well-read novel Rasselas. In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland- Johnsons travel narrative A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland described the journey. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, which includes biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets. After a series of illnesses, Johnson died on the evening of 13 December 1784- he 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.