Search the Collections

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Poet, critic and lexicographer

Sitter associated with 50 portraits
The author of the prodigious Dictionary of the English Language (1755), Johnson gained further prestige through the publication of his new edition of Shakespeare (1765) and travel memoir A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland (1775). Ungainly and plagued with nervous tics, he was the victim of melancholia and could not bear solitude. Johnson had an immense circle of friends, and was one of the greatest conversationalists of all time. Reynolds founded the Literary Club with him in 1764 to 'give him unlimited opportunities for talking'. James Boswell's Life, along with other biographies documented his behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette syndrome.

ListThumbnail