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Samuel Johnson entry: Overview screen.
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Overview
Writing
Life
Writing and Life
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Arriving in eighteenth-century London as one more young literary hopeful from the provinces, Samuel Johnson achieved such a name for himself as an arbiter of poetry, of morality (through his Rambler and other periodical essays and his prose fiction Rasselas), of the language (the Dictionary), and of the literary canon (his edition of Shakespeare and the Lives of the English Poets) that literary history has often typecast him as hidebound and authoritarian. This idea has been facilitated by his ill-mannered conversational dominance in his late years and by the portrait of him drawn by the hero-worshipping Boswell. In fact he was remarkable for his era in seeing literature as a career open to the talented without regard to gender. From his early-established friendships with Elizabeth Carter and Charlotte Lennox to his mentorship of Hester Thrale, Frances Burney, and (albeit less concentratedly) of Mary Wollstonecraft and Henrietta Battier, it was seldom that he crossed the path of a woman writer without friendly and relatively egalitarian encouragement.
Milestones
7 September 1709 SJ, man of letters, was born above his father's bookshop at Lichfield in Staffordshire. Bibliographic Citation link.  scholarly note link.
20 March 1750-14 March 1752 SJ published The Rambler, a twice-weekly series of essays, almost all written by himself. Bibliographic Citation link.
2, 5 November 1751 In Rambler numbers 170 and 171 SJ, writing as a prostitute calling herself 'Misella', expressed indignation at those who regard such women as irreclaimable or undeserving of sympathy. Bibliographic Citation link.
15 April 1755 SJ published his long-awaited Dictionary of the English Language, after a number of obstacles and interruptions which scholars are still investigating. Bibliographic Citation link.
15 March 1779 SJ published the first four volumes of his Lives of the English Poets: the last six came out in 1781. Bibliographic Citation link.
13 December 1784 SJ, man of letters, died in London. Bibliographic Citation link.
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