Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Marvellous Dr. Samuel Johnson

It is the 300th anniversary of the birth of the 18th century genius Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).

If you don't know much about the man, you will surely recognise some of the quotes - how about "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."?

He came to London from Lichfield in 1737, and found fame with the publication on producing the first English Language dictionary in 1755.

He went on to become one of the most celebrated men of the eighteenth century, attracting praise for his poetry, essays, biographies and conversational talents. Much of what we know about him comes from his famous biographer, Boswell. I'm chewing threw his biography of Johnson right now, and very enjoyable it is for a book from the 1700s.

The National Portrait Gallery has a small but interesting exhibition on Johnson, focussing on his role as popular biographer. There are also some additional portraits round the corner in room 12.

Look out for the celebratory 50p coin in circulation

The Life and Lives of Dr Johnson at the National Portrait Gallery, free and running until 13th December 2009 in Room 16. The Great Lives Podcast about Dr Johnson is available here, though I'm not sure for how much longer.

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