Johann Albert Fabricius was born in Leipzig in 1668. He attended school in Leipzig and, from 1684, in Quedlinburg. From 1686, he studied theology, philology, and medicine at the university in Leipzig. After finishing his studies in 1688, he traveled to Hamburg in 1693 and there became librarian to Dr. Johann Friedrich Mayer. Under Mayer's mentorship, Fabricius took part in theological debates and traveled to Sweden in 1696. Mayer held appointments as pastor in Hamburg and as professor of theology in Kiel, and Fabricius was granted a doctorate of theology from Kiel in 1699. The same year, he was appointed Professor of Eloquence and Moral Philosophy at the Hamburg Academic Gymnasium. From 1708 to 1711 he was also rector of the Hamburg Johanneum.
Fabricius's works span the disciplines of theology, history, grammar, and classics. His Bibliotheca latina (1697), Bibliotheca latina mediae et infimae aetatis (1734-1736), and Bibliotheca graeca (1705-1707) are biobibliographies, which have made a lasting contribution to classical scholarship; reprints appear in many university libraries. In addition to his own prolific writing, Fabricius edited and translated numerous works on classical and church history, theology, classical literature, and physicotheology.
Until his death in 1736, Fabricius belonged to a series of important intellectual circles in Hamburg. Composed of historians, politicians, clergymen, poets, journalists, and academics, associations like the “Deutsch-übende Gesellschaft” and the “Patriotische Gesellschaft” dedicated themselves to improving society through education and the promotion of the vernacular language and literature. Through his pedagogical initiatives, through his many publications, whether scholarly or popular (his writings for the weekly paper The Patriot, for example), and through his extensive correspondence, Fabricius became an internationally recognized academic. His massive encyclopedic works provide a groundwork for classical research, while his writings on language display a humane and liberal understanding of the organic development of language and dialect.