Blog post from Friday, 18 September, 2015

18th September 1709, marks the day Samuel Johnson, the dictionary maker, was born, He was actually born in Breadmarket Street, Lichfield, on 7th September 1709 (but after the change of calendar in 1752 he celebrated his birthday on 18 September).

Despite coming from a modest background, the son of a bookseller, he became one of the greatest literary figures of his day. He was known for his essay collections, biographies and particularly a comprehensive dictionary as well as the fable adaptation The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia.

In 1746, Dr Johnson agreed to tackle one of the major projects of his career: A Dictionary of the English Language which took nearly a decade to complete. Johnson’s dictionary was published in 1755, bringing him greater acclaim, but little financial reward.

At the age of 75, Johnson died on December 13, 1784, in London, England. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. Boswell’s famous biography, published in 1791, provided a lasting tribute to Johnson’s life and work. Courtesy (

The State Library of New South Wales holds early editions of Johnson’s works and provides access to online versions of his works in databases eg

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

See also a full biography at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Literary criticism through the Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson

These databases are available from home to residents of NSW with a valid library card.