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
Family and Intimate relationships Anna Williams
Zachary Williams's health improved radically after his eviction from the Charterhouse , with better food and more comfort. He returned to his longitude investigations and that was when he made the acquaintance of a helpful...
Family and Intimate relationships Anna Seward
A family story related that AS 's grandfather John Hunter , who became Samuel Johnson 's schoolmaster, had begun life as a foundling.
Ashmun, Margaret. The Singing Swan. Yale University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1931.
Family and Intimate relationships Hester Lynch Piozzi
In the days when Henry Thrale's sexual exploits were making newspaper columns, the same papers speculated pruriently on the relationship of his wife with Johnson . When Piozzi came on the scene such speculation re-awoke...
Family and Intimate relationships Elizabeth Heyrick
Her mother, born Elizabeth Cartwright , was a remarkable woman. She became engaged to please her family, but her fiancé died. After this she visited London and stayed with the publisher Robert Dodsley . While...
Family and Intimate relationships Hannah More
Johnson and Boswell paid a visit to the school run by HM 's sisters in Bristol.
Jones, Mary Gwladys. Hannah More. Cambridge University Press, 1952.
Family and Intimate relationships Laetitia-Matilda Hawkins
According to LMH , her father, the magistrate, musical and biographical writer Sir John Hawkins , brought up his children not to value themselves at all. Samuel Johnson later privately criticised the depressing system
Hawkins, Laetitia-Matilda. Memoirs, Anecdotes, Facts and Opinions. Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, and C. and J. Rivington, 1824.
1: 219n
Family and Intimate relationships Anna Eliza Bray
Ann Arrow Kempe was described by her daughter as shy and tender, with a love of music. L. E. L. remembered her as a charming, kind woman who admired poetry and demonstrated a sincere affection...
Family and Intimate relationships Anne Katharine Elwood
AKE 's maternal grandmother, Mary (Jacob) Barrett , was a Kentish woman who had been a friend of the bluestocking Elizabeth Carter , while her husband belonged (possibly through her) to Carter's literary circle, and...
Family and Intimate relationships Margaret Bingham, Countess Lucan
He was a relation (through his mother) of Agmondesham (or Agmondisham) Vesey , second husband of the bluestocking Elizabeth Vesey . From 1782 he was a member of the Club associated with Samuel Johnson ...
Family and Intimate relationships Hester Lynch Piozzi
Hester Thrale (later HLP ) bore her first child, Hester Maria Thrale , who was known by Johnson 's nickname for her, Queeney .
Clifford, James L. Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs Thrale). Clarendon Press, 1987.
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.
Family and Intimate relationships Margaret Bingham, Countess Lucan
The couple had four daughters and a son.
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray, Brian Harrison, and Lawrence Goldman, editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.,
One of the daughters produced an English verse translation of Horace which Samuel Johnson assessed as very well for a young Miss's verses
Boswell, James. Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Editors Hill, George Birkbeck and Laurence Fitzroy Powell, Clarendon, 1934.
3: 319
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 Hester Lynch Piozzi
Hester Thrale bore her third living daughter, Lucy Elizabeth, whose second name was given in honour of Johnson 's dead wife.
Clifford, James L. Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs Thrale). Clarendon Press, 1987.
Fictionalization Frances Burney
Bibliographer James Raven notes a crescendo in novelistic echoes of FB 's works during the 1780s. Burney's brother Charles , for instance, noted borrowings from both Evelina and Cecilia in his review for the Monthly...


27 June 1777
The clergyman William Dodd was executed for forgery despite the efforts of many distinguished people to win him a pardon.
15 January 1778
A Scottish court found in favour of Joseph Knight , a slave of African origin who had been brought to Scotland and now sued for his liberty. In effect this abolished slavery in Scotland: a...
By September 1782
The Letters of the black Londoner Ignatius Sancho were published two years after the author's death.
7 November 1783
The last public hanging took place at Tyburn in London (near where Marble Arch now stands), putting an end to the practice of parading the condemned through town en route to the scene of execution.
1 October 1785
The year after Johnson 's death, Boswell published The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.
7 December 1789
Hester Lynch Piozzi heard the African John Frederick Bridgetower speaking in public at Bath, to great applause, and wrote how Dr. Johnson would have adored that Man!
April 1791
The month before the appearance of his Life of Samuel Johnson , and as parliament debated the bill to abolish slavery, James Boswell published a long poem entitled No Abolition of Slavery; or, The Universal...
16 May 1791
James Boswell published The Life of Samuel Johnson, on the twenty-eighth anniversary of the day that he and Johnson first met.
March 1824-May 1829
Walter Savage Landor published Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen.
February 1906
Publisher J. M. Dent launched Everyman's Library, aiming to reprint 1,000 classic titles: the first year's 155 volumes included Æschylus , Shakespeare , Jane Austen practically complete,
Clair, Colin. A Chronology of Printing. Cassell, 1969.
and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu .


Johnson, Samuel. The Prince of Abissinia. Printed for R. and J. Dodsley, 1759.
Johnson, Samuel. The Rambler. Printed for Nichols, Son, and Bentley.
Johnson, Samuel. The Rambler. Editors Bate, Walter Jackson and Albrecht B. Strauss, Yale University Press, 1969.
Johnson, Samuel. The Vanity of Human Wishes. Printed for R. Dodsley, 1749.