Arriving in eighteenth-century London as one more young literary hopeful from the provinces, Rambler and other periodical essays and his prose fiction Rasselas), of the language (the Dictionary), and of the literary canon (his edition of
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
. 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
to his mentorship of
, and (albeit less concentratedly) of
, it was seldom that he crossed the path of a woman writer without friendly and relatively egalitarian encouragement.
achieved such a name for himself as an arbiter of poetry, of morality (through his