preview

Notorious English Writers: Samuel Johnson

Powerful Essays
Samuel Johnson

Born on September 18, 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, Samuel Johnson was an English writer who made contributions to literature as a poet, satirist, critic, biographer, and lexicographer. Since Johnson’s parents were bested by financial problems, his childhood was not unrivaled. In spite of Johnson’s misfortune, to prepare “himself for the role as the century’s greatest man of letters,” Samuel Johnson sought education from the books in his father’s shop (Cody 2). Blind in one eye, nearsighted in the other, deaf in one ear, Samuel Johnson contracted scrofula from his wet nurse. Additionally, Johnson was also scarred on his face and neck from both the disease and the corrective operation. He was also infected with smallpox. These traumatic illnesses boded the continuing physical discomfort and ill health that he had to face his entire life (Polito 2). However, the diseases did not hinder him as a writer. In Birmingham, Johnson met his wife Elizabeth Jervis Porter, who made an attempt to set up a school outside Lichfield that failed, also accompanied him to London.

“In 1738, Johnson wrote for Edward Cave’s The Gentleman’s Magazine, and published his “London,” an imitation of Juvenal’s satire on the decadence of ancient Rome, for which he received ten guineas.” Samuel Johnson was influenced to write these works because of the extreme poverty while living in London (Cody 7). Richard Savage, who ended a miserable lifestyle in a Bristol jail, was Johnson’s motivation for writing The Life of Richard Savage. The famous and the unknown used Johnson’s advice on literary and worldly problems, which is how he became a public figure (Cody 8).

After Johnson was inspired to write The Life of Richard Savage, whic...

... middle of paper ...

...iter. With the help of others, Johnson accomplished many works including a dictionary. Unlike other writers who were fascinated by romanticism and writing about the happiness of life, Johnson did opposite. Samuel Johnson wrote about the realistic truths, which humans deny about themselves. Samuel Johnson wrote about the truths of life. “The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are” (Johnson 97).

Work Cited

Michael, Adams. “What Samuel Johnson Really Did.” Humanities. Oct 2009: n. page. Print.

James, Boswell. “Life of Johnson.” Electric Classic Series. 1791: n. page. Print.

David, Cody. “The Victorian Web.” Samuel Johnson: A Brief Biography. Victorian Web, n.d.

Web. 8 Apr 2014.

Robert, Polito. “Samuel Johnson.” The Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 8 Apr 2014.