Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an influential English writer, lexicographer, and literary critic who lived from 1709 to 1784. He is best known for his comprehensive dictionary, "A Dictionary of the English Language," which was published in 1755.
Here are some key points about Samuel Johnson's life and achievements:
1. Early Life: Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. He was the son of a bookseller, and from an early age, he developed a love for literature and learning.
2. Education: Johnson attended Pembroke College, Oxford, but financial difficulties forced him to leave without completing his degree. However, he continued his self-education and became a voracious reader.
3. Literary Career: Johnson began his literary career as a journalist, writing for various publications. In 1737, he achieved recognition with his poem "London," which brought him fame in literary circles.
4. Dictionary of the English Language: Johnson's most significant achievement was the creation of his dictionary. It was the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language and took him nine years to complete. The dictionary helped standardize the English language and was highly regarded for its accuracy and detailed definitions.
5. Literary Criticism: Johnson is also known for his literary criticism. He wrote essays and reviews on various topics, including literature, poetry, and drama. His critical work, "The Lives of the Poets," provided insightful biographies and assessments of notable English poets.
6. Contributions to Journalism and Essay Writing: Johnson was a prolific writer of essays and contributed to several newspapers and magazines. His essays covered a wide range of subjects, including politics, morality, and social issues.
7. Johnson's Circle: Johnson was known for his intellectual discussions and formed a group known as the Literary Club, which included prominent figures such as Joshua Reynolds, Edmund Burke, and James Boswell. They would meet regularly to discuss literature, philosophy, and other topics.
8. Later Life: In his later years, Johnson faced financial struggles, but he continued to write and publish works. He received a government pension in recognition of his contributions to literature.
9. Legacy: Samuel Johnson's impact on English literature and language is profound. His dictionary set a standard for lexicography, and his writings on literature and criticism continue to be studied and admired. His meticulous approach and contributions to the English language earned him the title "Father of the English Dictionary."
Samuel Johnson's life and work left a lasting impression on the literary world, making him one of the most important figures in English literature and language studies.
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1. Pen Name: Johnson often used the pseudonym "The Rambler" when writing essays for various publications.
2. Dictionary Definitions: Johnson's dictionary contained around 40,000 entries, with each word accompanied by a detailed definition and illustrative quotations.
3. Superstitious Habits: Johnson had several superstitious habits, such as touching every lamppost he passed while walking on the street.
4. Cat Lover: Johnson had a deep affection for cats. He was known to have kept several cats as pets and even wrote a poem called "The Universal Passion: Satire IV" dedicated to a cat named Hodge.
5. Coffee Addict: Johnson was a passionate coffee drinker. He was known to consume large quantities of coffee, sometimes drinking as many as 25 cups per day.
6. Love for Shakespeare: Johnson was a devoted admirer of William Shakespeare. He wrote a famous preface to the edition of Shakespeare's plays, known as "Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare," which is still highly regarded.
7. Struggles with Depression: Johnson battled with periods of depression throughout his life. He referred to these episodes as "the black dog" and wrote about them in his personal writings.
8. Enormous Vocabulary: Johnson had a remarkable command of the English language. It is estimated that he had a vocabulary of around 40,000 words, which was significantly larger than that of his contemporaries.
9. Avid Book Collector: Johnson had a deep love for books and amassed a substantial personal library throughout his life. Unfortunately, financial difficulties forced him to sell his collection to settle debts.
10. Monumental Work: Johnson's dictionary was a monumental achievement in the field of lexicography. It remained the standard English dictionary for over a century and had a profound impact on the development and standardization of the English language.
These trivia facts offer a glimpse into the life and personality of Samuel Johnson, showcasing his eccentricities, passions, and literary contributions.