Saturday, September 19, 2009


Today is Samuel Johnson's birthday. He was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, in 1709, and is famous for writing the seminal Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, 150 years before the Oxford English Dictionary came into existence. Literary critic, poet, essayist, editor and more, he was cynical, often depressed, and frequently amusing, and is allegedly the second most quoted person in the English language (after Shakespeare).

There is a family legend that we are descended from Johnson's family (not from the man himself--he had no offspring--but from an uncle or brother or something). My maternal grandmother's name is Johnson, and that is the sole support for this rumor, but who knows... it might be true.

Coincidentally, I was born in Lichfield and lived there until the age of four. I revisited this gorgeous town a few years ago, with its three-spire cathedral and tudor buildings, and the house--now a museum--where Johnson was born.

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." - Samuel Johnson

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