Editions

The standard scholarly edition of Johnson's works is the Yale Edition. It's been in progress for about four decades now; the following volumes are available: The edition isn't yet complete, and given their pace, don't hold your breath. For the rest of the major works, these usually serve as the standard editions: There are also three modern editions of Johnson's letters; the best and most recent is The Letters of Samuel Johnson, ed. Bruce Redford, 5 vols. (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992–94), but R. W. Chapman's edition (Oxford: Clarendon, 1952) is still handy, especially for numbering the letters — a system Redford dropped.

Some other useful scholarly editions, even though not "standard": The Poems of Samuel Johnson, ed. D. Nichol Smith and E. L. McAdam, Jr. (1974); Samuel Johnson: The Complete English Poems, ed. J. D. Fleeman (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1971); A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, ed. J. D. Fleeman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985). The diaries, prayers, and annals are available (with other works) in Johnsonian Miscellanies, ed. G. B. Hill, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897).


So much for scholarship. But most of the volumes above start at around $50 each and go up from there. (One exception: Liberty Fund has reprinted the Yale edition of the Political Writings in a paperback for around ten bucks.) If you want to own cheaper editions, Fleeman's edition of the English Poems is available in paperback. Bronson includes a reliable edition of Rasselas in his paperback Samuel Johnson: Rasselas, Poems, and Selected Prose, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Holt, Rinehart, 1971). Both Penguin and Oxford do inexpensive editions of Rasselas. For just about everything else, you'll have to make do with the Anthologies & Selections.

This is part of a Guide to Samuel Johnson by Jack Lynch. Comments are welcome.