A Dictionary of the English Language

Contributed by The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum

Samuel Johnson's 'A Dictionary of the English Language' 1755 © Robert Yardley

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary took nine years to write and included 42,773 entries.This large two volume book is one of the first editions of the famous dictionary written by Samuel Johnson, which was published in 1755. Johnson came from Lichfield in Staffordshire and moved to London in his twenties to find work as a writer. In 1746 he was approached by a group of printers and publishers with the project of writing the dictionary. Johnson worked for nine years with a group of assistants at his house in Gough Square, London. Johnson's was not the very first dictionary but it was the most concise and complete one produced up to the time, and the first to include examples of usages. It gives us a fascinating insight into the language and literature used in the Georgian period. Johnson's Dictionary became the standard authority on the English Language with a worldwide influence; it was shipped to America, Australia and New Zealand, and it was translated into French and German.

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