Staffordshire - Dr Johnson Facts!
Some of the lesser-known facts outlining connections between Doctor Samuel Johnson and the county of his birth
º Samuel Johnson’s father had a bookstall in nearby Uttoxeter in east Staffordshire as well as at Lichfield market.
As a young man, Johnson refused one day to work on the stall.
º A more permanent reminder of ‘Johnson’s Penance’ is the monument erected in Uttoxeter market square. It is so large, that the hollow inside it now serves as a tiny newspaper kiosk and shop!
º At the 2009 Lichfield Winter Beer & Wine Festival, the Blythe Brewery, based in the village of Hamstall Ridware, launched its ‘Tetty's Tipple’ beer, to mark Dr Johnson's 300th birthday. (Tetty was the nickname Johnson gave to his wife Elizabeth…)
º The Staffordshire village of Edial, near Burntwood, was where Johnson set up his boys’ school in 1735. However, he only had three pupils!
º One of his pupils at Edial was an eighteen year old Lichfield lad called David Garrick.
º There are a number of present-day local pubs with Johnson connections.
º Johnson's baptism is recorded at St Mary's Church, in Lichfield’s Market Square. However the ceremony itself was conducted at Sam’s home, as he was a sickly baby and not expected to live.
º Every September, there is an annual commemoration event in Lichfield to remember Johnson’s birthday (18th September). It is usually held on the Saturday nearest to the day.
º Johnson’s statue is not the only one in Lichfield’s Market Square. At the other end of the square is a statue of his biographer, James Boswell.
º Not only does Westminster Abbey have a memorial to Johnson, there is a bust of Johnson also in Lichfield Cathedral.
º It’s believed that Johnson had the Staffordshire village of Ilam, near Dovedale, in mind as he depicted the Happy Valley that figures in his novel Rasselas.
º The poet, critic and novelist, John Wain, wrote one of the best modern accounts of Johnson in his work ‘Samuel Johnson’ (1974).
º Johnson was an admitted tea-addict.
º Staffordshire was a centre of opposition to the slave trade.
º Johnson employed a former slave, Francis Barber, as his companion-servant in London. Francis became Johnson's eventual heir.
º It’s now believed that Johnson was an obsessive-compulsive. There is an account of him which tells that he could not walk down a London alley-way without touching each post with his cane. If he missed one, he would go back and start over again.
last updated: 24/12/2009 at 07:49
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John Dudley, Lichfield