Samuel Johnson

Standard Name: Johnson, Samuel
Used Form: Dr Johnson
Arriving in eighteenth-century London as one more young literary hopeful from the provinces, SJ 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.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
death Anna Williams
AW died at 8 Bolt Court near Fleet Street in London of mere inanition,
Johnson, Samuel. The Letters of Samuel Johnson. Redford, BruceEditor , Princeton University Press, 1994.
4: 198
in the lodgings of Samuel Johnson . She had been suffering inappetence,
Johnson, Samuel. The Letters of Samuel Johnson. Redford, BruceEditor , Princeton University Press, 1994.
4: 187
eating very little, for some time.
Larsen, Lyle. Dr. Johnson’s Household. Archon Books, 1985.
death Thomas Otway
Samuel Johnson professed unwillingness to believe the story to which he gave currency, that Otway was reduced to begging for food, and choked to death on a roll bought with a charitable gift.
Johnson, Samuel. Lives of the English Poets. Hill, George BirkbeckEditor , Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1905.
1: 247
Dedications Charlotte Lennox
The full title was Memoirs for the History of Madame de Maintenon and of the last age; Lennox published it as the author of The Female Quixote. The price was fifteen shillings; the...
Dedications Charlotte Lennox
The final volume came out on 22 February 1754.
Isles, Duncan. “The Lennox Collection”. Harvard Library Bulletin, No. 4, pp. 317 - 44.
Its full title was Shakespear Illustrated; or, The Novels and Histories, on which the Plays of Shakespear are founded, collected and translated from the original...
Dedications Charlotte Lennox
A second edition followed on 19 March 1761. It featured the first appearance of Lennox's name on a title-page, and a dedication (supplied by Johnson ; the first edition had none) to the Duchess of Newcastle
Education Lydia Maria Child
At fifteen she read Paradise Lost (with her brother's encouragement) and was delighted with its grandeur and sublimity, but was bold enough to criticise Milton for assert[ing] the superiority of his own sex in rather...
Education Sarah Josepha Hale
Sarah Josepha Buell (later SJH ) was taught at home by her mother, with her father and her brother Horatio (then a law student) joining in for such higher branches of learning as writing, Latin...
Education Matilda Betham-Edwards
Because of her mother's early death, MBE , she said later, was largely self-educated, her teachers being plenty of the best books.
Black, Helen C. Notable Women Authors of the Day. D. Bryce, 1893.
Apart from the family library, a half-guinea annual subscription to the Ipswich Mechanics' Institution
Education Harriette Wilson
While she was still in her teens, although engaged in her second paid sexual relationship, her lover Frederic Lamb set out to get her reading Milton , Shakespeare , Byron , theRambler, Virgil
Education Mary Somerville
Flipping casually through a ladies' fashion magazine when she was about fourteen years old, Mary had her curiosity caught by an algebraic expression in a puzzle. She was told that the variables were Algebra...
Education Evelyn Sharp
ES received her first education at home, from her sisters Ethel, Bertha, and Mabel (the eldest), who taught the younger ones Bible stories on Sundays. At the same time she imbibed from her brothers the...
Education Maria Callcott
Maria Dundas, aged seven (later MC ), began attending a school which occupied the Manor House at Draycot in Berkshire, run by the Miss Brights, who prided themselves on having been friends of Samuel Johnson .
Gotch, Rosamund Brunel. Maria, Lady Callcott, The Creator of ’Little Arthur’. J. Murray, 1937.
19, 41
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray, Brian Harrison, and Lawrence Goldman, editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Education Elizabeth Carter
She progressed on her own later to other languages such as German, Portuguese and Arabic, and to studies with Thomas Wright which included astronomy, mathematics, and ancient civilization and culture. Much has been made of...
Family and Intimate relationships Anna Williams
AW 's father Zachary or Zachariah , died. Johnson 's obituary for the newspapers said he was aged eighty-two and had been ill this time for eight months.
Larsen, Lyle. Dr. Johnson’s Household. Archon Books, 1985.
Family and Intimate relationships Virginia Woolf
He was immensely influential. As editor of the Cornhill Magazine from 1871 to 1882, he published Henry James , Thomas Hardy , Matthew Arnold , Robert Browning , and George Meredith , among others.
Rosenbaum, S. P. “An Educated Man’s Daughter: Leslie Stephen, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group”. Virginia Woolf: New Critical Essays, edited by Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy, Vision; Barnes and Noble, 1983, pp. 32 -56.


Probably 14 March 1646
Sir Thomas Browne published his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, a giant compendium of popular misconceptions and antique thinking,
Hitchings, Henry. “Samuel Johnson and Sir Thomas Browne”. New Rambler, pp. 46 -56.
which, paradoxically, perpetuated many of the superstitions it contradicted.
Dr Thomas Bray , who had founded the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge , used a bequest from a Dutch secretary to William III to found Dr Bray's Associates , an organization supporting parochial libraries...
20 January 1724
Elizabeth Harrison wrote for publication, with her name, A Letter to Mr. John Gay , On his Tragedy, call'd The Captives. To which is annex'd a copy of verses to the Princess.
A pseudonymous M. Ludovicus argued explicitly that poverty drives women to prostitution, and that shelters should be provided to help them leave the trade.
7 November 1752-9 March 1754
The self-educated John Hawkesworth edited and published an essay-periodical called the Adventurer, on the model of Johnson 's Rambler.
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray, Brian Harrison, and Lawrence Goldman, editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
18 March 1755
There was published at London an anthology entitled The Matrimonial Preceptor: A Collection of Examples and Precepts Relating to the Married State.
May 1756
The Literary Magazine: or, Universal Review (often known as the Literary Review) began publication in London; Samuel Johnson was a contributor and, for the first four issues, the editor.
Probably 1758
Stenography, or Short-Hand Improved, by John Angell the elder , appeared, with a prefatory dedication which has been ascribed to Samuel Johnson .
1 December 1759
John Hawkesworth in turn adapted Thomas Southerne 's dramatic adaptation of Aphra Behn 's Oroonoko, making it for the first time a solidly anti-slavery text.
By June 1766
James Fordyce anonymously printed his Sermons to Young Women. It went through ninety-five British reprints by 1850, plus half as many again in the USA.
15-21 June 1772
A series of London banking firms collapsed after the bank associated with Alexander Fordyce stopped payment; ensuing panic brought the biggest stock-market crash since the South Sea Bubble burst in late 1720.
11 April 1773
Boswell asked Johnson the reason why women servants were paid so much less than men, although the opposite would seem to reflect natural justice; Johnson had no answer.
21 February 1774
The House of Lords decision Donaldson vs. Becket put an end to the legality (based in common law) of perpetual copyright. The case was provoked by the pirating activities of Alexander Donaldson .
By March 1774
Warren Hastings became the first English Governor-General of India.
8 February 1777
The first volume appeared in Edinburgh of Hugh Blair 's five volumes of exquisitely sentimental
Buchan, James. “That sh—te Creech”. London Review of Books, pp. 13 -14.
and extraordinarily popular
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray, Brian Harrison, and Lawrence Goldman, editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Sermons. London publication followed on 15 April.