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.
More on Samuel Johnson: Jane Austen and her World book in our Shops
Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below
by James Gillray, published by W. Rennie
hand-coloured etching, published 10 March 1782
by James Gillray, published by William Holland
hand-coloured etching, published 29 July 1783
by Thomas Trotter, published by George Kearsley
line engraving, published 18 January 1786
- Blue plaque, 8 Russell Street, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5HZ
- Blue plaque, Dr Johnson's House, Gough Square, Holborn, London EC4A 3DE
- Dr Johnson's House, London
- Johnson Society of London
- Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield, Staffordshire
- Samuel Johnson in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- The Museum of the Order of St John, London
Do, draw and make!
Do, draw and make!
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Activities for children and families inspired by three healthcare heroes from our Collection.
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