The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia

The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia

The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia

The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia


A comprehensive and fully-indexed guide to Samuel Johnson, covering all aspects of his work, life, and personality. It is the first single-volume reference tool which enables the reader to locate facts on Johnson's ideas on many topics and to trace his thought in all areas.


The true strong and sound mind is the mind that can embrace equally
great things and small.

Johnson, 29 April 1778 (Life 3:334)

The aim of The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia is to gather together, so far as is possible in a single volume, all the essential facts regarding Johnson. It is intended to provide a convenient reference work in which the reader can find the basic information, at least as a first resort, and to indicate the places to go for more details. It deals both with Johnson's works and with his life, and it seeks to give balanced coverage over a wide range of issues. 'There is nothing, Sir', Johnson told Boswell, 'too little for so little a creature as man' (Life 1:433). So far as space permits, this book descends to minute particulars where they are of genuine interest. Its entries include one on Hodge the cat as well as one on metaphysical poetry; one on Johnson's introduction to a short work on checkers as well as one on his great edition of Shakespeare, with its famous preface; and one on his servant Mrs White as well as one on Hester Thrale. There is no desire to make this simply a bluffer's guide for a trivia quiz on Johnson. But the subject of this encyclopedia was a man proud of his ability 'to write trifles with dignity' (Life 4:34), and it behooves such a work to collect together the maximum information about the achievement of this fascinating human being.

Naturally, it has not proved possible to include every single topic about which Johnson wrote or spoke (however glancingly), or to find room for each individual whom he mentioned or he met. Short of this, an attempt has been made to include all salient persons and subjects with a Johnsonian . . .

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