The English poet, literary critic, biographer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson (1709–84) is perhaps most famous for his Dictionary of the English Language and the influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, and is often considered the most distinguished man of letters in English history. First published in 1878 in the first series of 'English Men of Letters', this biography by the eminent critic Sir Leslie Stephen traces Johnson's life from his childhood to his career as a writer and literary critic, and concludes with an overview of his works. Stephen describes Johnson's style as one of 'masculine directness', reflecting a life blighted by experiences of poverty and disease, and a desire to escape from pain. Painting a striking portrait of one of the most vigorous intellects of the eighteenth century, this work remains of interest to literary scholars today.
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Table of Contents
1. Childhood and early life; 2. Literary career; 3. Johnson and his friends; 4. Johnson as a literary dictator; 5. The closing years of Johnson's life; 6. Johnson's writings.