Monday, September 3, 2007
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Don't think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark.
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Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), often referred to simply as "Dr Johnson", was one of England's greatest literary figures. Although best remembered as the compiler of the first comprehensive English dictionary, Dr Johnson was more than a scholar. Born at Lichfield and educated at Oxford, he moved to London in 1737 with his wife, Tetty, who was twenty years his senior, and began to earn a living as a journalist, whilst working on plays, poetry and biographies. Johnson began his Dictionary of the English Language in 1747, but did not complete it until 1755. It made his name, but not his fortune. Another of his major works, the satire Rasselas (1759), was written specifically to raise money to pay for his mother's funeral. Johnson was at the centre of a literary circle which included such figures as Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke and David Garrick, and founded the Literary Club. In 1763, a young Scottish writer, James Boswell, introduced himself to Johnson. Together they toured the Western Isles of Scotland in 1773, a journey which Johnson immortalised in print. Dr Johnson's last great work was the ten-volume Lives of the English Poets, published between 1779 and 1781. He died in 1784 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Samuel Johnson.]
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