Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Rutgers University -- Newark
Last revised 21 February 2001
- J. D. Fleeman, A Bibliography of the Works of Samuel
Johnson, Treating His Published Works from the Beginnings to
1984, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000). The definitive
bibliography by the late David Fleeman, brought to completion by
James McLaverty. Absolutely essential for serious scholarship. It
supersedes the earlier bibliography by Courtney and Nichol Smith
and the supplement by Chapman and Hazen, below.
- William P. Courtney and D. Nichol Smith, A Bibliography of
Samuel Johnson, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1925). Soon to
be superseded by a new bibliography by J. D. Fleeman and James
- R. W. Chapman and Allen T. Hazen, "Johnsonian Bibliography: A
Supplement to Courtney," Proceedings of the Oxford
Bibliographical Society 5 (1939): 119-66.
- Donald J. Greene, ed., Samuel Johnson's Library: An
Annotated Guide (Victoria, B.C.: University of Victorian,
1975). An attempt to reconstruct the list of books Johnson owned
- J. D. Fleeman, ed., A Preliminary Handlist of Copies of
Books Associated with Dr. Samuel Johnson (Oxford: Oxford
Bibliographical Society, Bodleian Library, 1984). Examines copies
books Johnson owned or used that have survived.
- James Clifford and Donald J. Greene, Samuel Johnson: A
Survey and Bibliography of Critical Studies (Minneapolis:
Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1970). Covers the beginnings through
- Donald J. Greene and John A. Vance, A Bibliography of
Johnsonian Studies, 1970-1985 (Victoria: Univ. of Victoria,
1987). Brings Clifford and Greene up to 1985.
- Jack Lynch, A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies,
1986-1998 (New York: AMS Press, 2000). An earlier version
appears in The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual 10
(1999): 405-519. A searchable on-line version appears as "Johnsonian
(andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Johnson/sjbib.html). An extension
of Greene and Vance.
- The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson (New Haven: Yale
Univ. Press, 1959-) (in progress):
The Yale Edition supersedes the collected editions of 1825 and 1787
(below), although the earlier Works must still be consulted for
works not yet included in Yale.
- Vol. I, Diaries, Prayers, Annals, ed. E. L. McAdam,
Jr., with Donald and Mary Hyde (1959);
- Vol. II, The Idler and The Adventurer, ed. W. J.
Bate, J. M. Bullitt, and L. F. Powell (1963);
- Vols. III, IV, V, The Rambler, ed. W. J. Bate and
Albrecht B. Strauss (1969);
- Vol. VI, Poems, ed. E. L. McAdam, Jr., with George
Milne (1964) (see separate editions below);
- Vols. VII, VIII, Johnson on Shakespeare, ed. Arthur
- Vol. IX, A Journey to the Western Islands of
Scotland, ed. Mary Lascelles (1971) (see J. D. Fleeman's edition,
- Vol. X, Political Writings, ed. Donald J. Greene
- Vol. XIV, Sermons, ed. Jean H. Hagstrum and James
- Vol. XV, A Voyage to Abyssinia, ed. Joel J. Gold
- Vol. XVI, Rasselas and Other Tales, ed. Gwin J. Kolb
- The Works of Samuel Johnson, 11 vols. (Oxford, 1825; repr. New
York: AMS Press, 1970).
- The Works of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.: Together with His Life, and
Notes on His Lives of the Poets, ed. Sir John Hawkins, 11 vols.
(London, 1787). Volume 1 includes Hawkins's biography of Johnson.
- The Lives of the Poets, ed. G. B. Hill, 3 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905).
- The Life of Savage, ed. Clarence Tracy (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1971). A more thorough treatment of the text of Savage than
in Hill's edition of The Lives of the Poets.
- The Poems of Samuel Johnson, ed. D. Nichol Smith and E. L.
McAdam, Jr., 2nd ed. [revised by J. D. Fleeman] (Oxford: Oxford
Univ. Press, 1974). Preserves the original orthography of the poems and
often includes more extensive notes than the Yale Edition.
- Samuel Johnson: The Complete English Poems, ed. J. D. Fleeman
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1971). A useful collection, but not so
scholarly as the Yale or Oxford editions.
- A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, ed. J. D.
Fleeman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985). Better treatment of the text and
more extensive notes than the Yale Edition's volume.
- Samuel Johnson's Prefaces and Dedications, ed. Allen T. Hazen
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1937).
- Early Biographical Writings of Samuel Johnson, ed. J. D.
Fleeman (Farnborough: Gregg, 1973). Facsimiles of Johnson's uncollected
biographies of Sarpi, Boerhaave, Drake, Blake, Morin, Burman, Confucius,
Barretier, Sydenham, Savage, Roscommon, Cheynel, Cave, Browne, Frederick
the Great, Ascham, Collins, Mudge, Thirlby, and others.
- The Dictionary is available in several large facsimiles of the
first edition (1755) and the fourth (1773). Anne McDermott has recently
edited the full text of both editions on one CD-ROM (see Electronic
- The diaries, prayers, and annals are available (with other works) in
Johnsonian Miscellanies, ed. G. B. Hill, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon
- The Letters of Samuel Johnson, ed. Bruce Redford, 5 vols.
(Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992-94). This (the "Hyde Edition")
supersedes the earlier editions by Chapman and Hill.
- The Letters of Samuel Johnson, ed. R. W. Chapman, 3 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1952). Still useful for its numbering the letters -- a
system Redford dropped.
- The Letters of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., ed. G. B. Hill, 2 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1829). Intended as a supplement to Hill's
edition of The Life of Samuel Johnson; only letters that do not
appear there are included. Almost entirely superseded by more recent
editions, although information in the appendices is sometimes helpful.
- James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., ed. G. B.
Hill, rev. L. F. Powell, 6 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934-64). The
standard edition of Boswell's Life, including the complete text of
Boswell's Journal of a Voyage to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson
(in vol. 5) and an extensive index (in vol. 6).
- Sir John Hawkins, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., vol. 1 of
the 1787 Works (see above). Also available in an abridged edition:
The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., ed. and abridged by Bertram H.
Davis (New York: Macmillan, 1961).
- O M Brack and Robert E. Kelley, eds., The Early Biographies of
Samuel Johnson (Iowa City: Univ. of Iowa Press, 1974).
- Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi, Thraliana: The Diary of Mrs. Hester
Lynch Thrale (later Mrs. Piozzi) 1776-1809, ed. Katharine C.
Balderston, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1942).
- Johnsonian Gleanings, ed. Aleyn Lyell Reade, 11 vols. (London:
Francis, 1909-52). A great mass of mostly undigested biographical
- James L. Clifford, Young Sam Johnson (New York: McGraw-Hill,
1955). With its sequel (below), among the most important modern
- James L. Clifford, Dictionary Johnson (New York: McGraw-Hill,
- Walter Jackson Bate, Samuel Johnson (New York: Harcourt, Brace,
Jovanovich, 1977). An important modern biography with a marked
- Robert DeMaria, Jr., The Life of Samuel Johnson (Oxford:
Blackwell, 1996). Focuses on Johnson's scholarly life.
- Pat Rogers, ed., The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia (Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996). Many hundreds of entries on Johnson's life
and works. Not always reliable, but very handy nonetheless.
- Norman Page, A Dr. Johnson Chronology (Boston: G. K. Hall,
1990). A detailed day-by-day chronology of Johnson's life.
Collections and Festschriften
- Donald J. Greene, ed., Samuel Johnson: A Collection of
Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1965). A handy
collection of major essays from the forties and fifties.
- F. W. Hilles, ed., New Light on Dr. Johnson (New Haven: Yale
Univ. Press, 1959).
- Paul J. Korshin, ed., Johnson after Two Hundred Years
(Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1986).
- Greg Clingham, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997). Fifteen solid essays from major
Monographs and Articles
Introductions and Overviews
- Bertrand H. Bronson, "The Double Tradition of Dr. Johnson,"
ELH 18 (June 1951): 90-106; reprinted in Clifford's
Eighteenth-Century Literature. A major essay discussing the tension
between studies of Johnson's life and works.
- Paul Fussell, Samuel Johnson and the Life of Writing (New York:
Harcourt, 1971; London: Chatto and Windus, 1972). Among the best
non-specialist overviews of Johnson's life and works.
- Lawrence Lipking, Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1998). Incisive close readings of
Johnson's major works and his status as an author.
- Thomas Woodman, A Preface to Samuel Johnson (London: Longman,
1993). A useful introduction for beginners.
- James H. Sledd and Gwin J. Kolb, Dr. Johnson's
Dictionary: Essays in the Biography of a Book (Chicago:
Univ. of Chicago Press, 1955). Long the standard study of the
- J. D. Fleeman, "Some of Dr. Johnson's Preparatory Notes for His
Dictionary, 1755," Bodleian Library Record 7 (December
- Robert DeMaria, Jr., Johnson's "Dictionary" and the
Language of Learning (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina
Press, 1986). A learned discussion of the Dictionary as a work to
be read and its relation to encylcopedic and didactic literature.
- Allen Reddick, The Making of Johnson's Dictionary
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990). Reddick had access to
materials Sledd and Kolb couldn't see, and meticulously pieces
together the story of how Johnson assembled his
Dictionary, both the first and fourth editions.
Fiction and Rasselas
- Gwin J. Kolb, "The Structure of Rasselas," PMLA 66
(September 1951): 698-717.
- Donald M. Lockhart, "'The Fourth Son of the Mighty Emperor': The
Ethopian Background of Johnson's Rasselas," PMLA 78
(December 1963): 516-28.
- Thomas R. Preston, "The Biblical Context of Johnson's
Rasselas," PMLA 84 (March 1969): 274-81.
- Carey McIntosh, The Choice of Life: Samuel Johnson and
the World of Fiction (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1973). The best
overview of Johnson and fiction.
- D. Nichol Smith, Samuel Johnson's "Irene" (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1929). The most extensive study of Johnson's play.
- T. S. Eliot, "Introduction" to London and The
Vanity of Human Wishes, in English Critical Essays,
ed. Phyllis M. Jones (Oxford: World's Classics, 1933); reprinted
in The New Penguin Companion to English Literature, vol.
IV, From Dryden to Johnson, ed. Boris Ford (Harmondsworth:
Penguin, 1982), 228-34. A classic defense of Johnson's poetry.
- David Nichol Smith, "The Heroic Couplet -- Johnson," in
Some Observations on Eighteenth Century Poetry (Toronto:
Univ. of Toronto Press, 1937), 31-55. Sensitive close readings of
Johnson's poetic techniques.
- David Nichol Smith, "Johnson's Poems," in New Light on Dr.
Johnson: Essays on the Occasion of His 250th Birthday, ed.
Frederick W. Hilles (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1959), 9-17.
- Bertrand H. Bronson, "Johnson's Irene," in Johnson
Agonistes and Other Essays (Berkeley: Univ. of California
Press, 1965), 100-55.
- Frederick W. Hilles, "Johnson's Poetic Fire," in From
Sensibility to Romanticism: Essays Presented to Frederick A.
Pottle, ed. Frederick W. Hilles and Harold Bloom (London:
Oxford Univ. Press, 1965), 67-77.
- David F. Venturo, Johnson the Poet: The Poetic Career of
Samuel Johnson (Newark: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1999). The
first book-length treatment of Johnson's poetry. Covers his
entire career, from major works like London and
Vanity through the juvenilia and Latin poems, providing
insightful close readings and careful contextualizations.
- Arthur Sherbo, Samuel Johnson, Editor of Shakespeare
(Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1956). Dry, but essential
reading, and the foundation of most subsequent criticism. Sherbo
drew critical attention away from its exclusive attention to the
Preface and turned it toward the notes to the plays.
- R. E. Scholes, "Dr. Johnson and the Bibliographical Criticism
of Shakespeare," Shakespeare Quarterly 11 (Spring 1960):
- Peter Seary, "The Early Editors of Shakespeare and the
Judgment of Johnson," in Johnson After Two Hundred Years,
ed. Paul J. Korshin (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press,
- G. F. Parker, Johnson's Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford
Univ. Press, 1989).
- Edward Tomarken, Johnson on Shakespeare: The Choice of
Criticism (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1991).
- B. B. Hoover, Samuel Johnson's Parliamentary
Reporting (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of California
Press, 1953). The most extended study of the Debates in
- Howard Erskine-Hill, "The Political Character of Samuel
Johnson," in Samuel Johnson: New Critical Essays, ed.
Isobel Grundy (London: Vision Press, 1984). One of the first
articles to begin the recent discussion of Johnson as a potential
- Donald J. Greene, The Politics of Samuel Johnson, 2nd
ed. (Athens, Ga.: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1990). The most
important work on Johnson's political opinions since its first
publication in 1960. Greene's influential Namierite study
encourages us to see Johnson not as a "bigoted Tory" but as a
much more liberal and sympathetic figure. The long introduction
to the second edition, which brings the debate up to date, helped
to spark the current controversy.
- J. C. D. Clark, Samuel Johnson: Literature, Religion, and
Cultural Politics from the Restoration to Romanticism
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994). A controversial
response to Greene, insisting on Johnson's conservatism and
- John Cannon, Samuel Johnson and the Politics of Hanoverian
England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994). A balanced account
of Johnson's politics in a larger context.
- Maruice Quinlan, "The Rumor of Dr. Johnson's Conversion,"
Review of Religion 12 (March 1948): 243-61.
- Maurice Quinlan, Samuel Johnson: A Layman's Religion
(Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1964). A general overview of
Johnson's religious life.
- Chester Chapin, The Religious Thought of Samuel
Johnson (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1968). An
improvement over Quinlan's study, but still limited.
- J. D. Fleeman, "Some Notes on Johnson's Prayers and
Meditations," Review of English Studies n.s. 19 (May
- Nicholas Hudson, Samuel Johnson and Eighteenth-Century
Thought (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988). Hudson very learnedly
examines Johnson's opinions on many of the philosophical and
(especially) theological disputes of the eighteenth century.
- Michael Suarez, S.J., "Johnson's Christian Thought," in
The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson, ed. Greg
Clingham (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997), 192-208. The
best brief survey of Johnson's religious beliefs.
Johnson as Biographer
- Bergen B. Evans, "Dr. Johnson's Theory of Biography,"
Review of English Studies 10 (July 1934): 301-10.
- J. D. Fleeman, "The Making of Johnson's Life of
Savage, 1744," The Library 22 (1976): 346-52. A
careful study of the composition.
- Robert Folkenflik, Samuel Johnson: Biographer (Ithaca:
Cornell Univ. Press, 1978). The best overview of Johnson's
Johnson as Critic
- W. R. Keast, "The Theoretical Foundation of Johnson's
Criticism," in Critics and Criticism, ed. R. S. Crane
(Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1952), 161-87. An important New
Critical investigation into the principles underlying Johnson's
- Jean H. Hagstrum, Samuel Johnson's Literary Criticism,
2nd ed. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967). Still the major
study of Johnson's critical practice. The first edition appeared
- R. D. Stock, Samuel Johnson and Neo-Classical Dramatic
Theory (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1973). A look at
Johnson's criticism of drama, especially Shakespeare.
- Howard D. Weinbrot, "The Reader, the General, and the
Particular: Johnson and Imlac in Chapter Ten of
Rasselas," Eighteenth-Century Studies 5 (1971):
80-96. A reading of an important crux.
- Charles H. Hinnant, "Steel for the Mind": Samuel Johnson
and Critical Discourse (Newark, Del.: Associated Univ.
Press, 1994). A good supplement to Hagstrum, with more attention
to Johnson as a systematic thinker.
- W. K. Wimsatt, The Prose Style of Samuel Johnson (New
Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1941). A classic study of Johnson's
- W. K. Wimsatt, Philosophic Words: A Study of Style and
Meaning in the "Rambler" and the "Dictionary" of Samuel
Johnson (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1948). A major study of
Johnson's use of scientific and philosophical language.
- Thomas M. Curley, Samuel Johnson and the Age of Travel
(Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1976). The most important study
of Johnson's travel writing.
- R. K. Kaul, "A Journey to the Western Isles
Reconsidered," Essays in Criticism 13 (October 1963):
- Walter Raleigh, Six Essays on Johnson (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1910). A classic study.
- Alvin Kernan, Printing, Technology, Letters, and Samuel
Johnson (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1987); reissued in
paperback in 1989 as Samuel Johnson and the Impact of
Print. A provocative, albeit sometimes reckless, exploration
of Johnson in terms of eighteenth-century print culture.
- Stephen Lynn, Samuel Johnson after Deconstruction:
Rhetoric and the Rambler (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ.
Press, 1992). Close readings of The Rambler, informed by
- Anne McDermott, ed., Samuel Johnson's Dictionary on
CD-ROM (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996). One CD-ROM
for both Windows and Macintosh. Includes complete transcriptions
and page images of the first and fourth editions of the
- Leopold Damrosch, Major Authors on CD-ROM: Samuel Johnson
and James Boswell (Woodbridge, Conn.: Primary Source Media,
1996). One CD-ROM for Windows. Includes complete searchable
transcriptions of the Yale Edition, Hill's edition of the
Lives of the Poets and the Letters, and the
Hill-Powell edition of Boswell's Life.
- Jack Lynch, Samuel
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