A Bibliography of
Johnsonian Studies,

Jack Lynch

This bibliography was published as A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986–1998 (New York: AMS Press, 2000), and in an earlier version in The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, 10 (1999), 405–519. The electronic form has continued to be updated; note that the item numbers in the Web version therefore don't correspond to the numbers in the printed versions. The Preface and Introduction from the book publication appear below.


The bibliography of secondary studies of Samuel Johnson started half a century ago, when James L. Clifford published Johnsonian Studies, 1887–1950 (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1951). Subsequent additions by Clifford, Donald Greene, and John Vance have widened the chronological scope of this accounting to include a reasonably complete list of everything written about Johnson since his death. The first yardstick of the growth of Johnsonian studies came in 1962, when Clifford and Greene added a supplement, "A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1950–1960." Since this addition appeared in a relatively obscure publication, Johnsonian Studies, ed. Magdi Wahba (Cairo, 1962), few scholars made use of it and, indeed, for much of the last fifty years, the scholarly world has treated Johnsonian bibliography as a specialized branch of a specialized industry.

Jack Lynch's new supplement to the Clifford-Greene-Vance series represents a change. It is the first such bibliography to have the imprimatur of an established academic journal, The Age of Johnson, where it originally appeared in a somewhat shorter form (as part of volume 10 [1999]). A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986–1998 is also the first publication in this series to be generated and maintained entirely in machine-readable form; as a database, the work will easily be updated and expanded in the years ahead. In scope, Johnson and Johnsonian subjects are not the only topics which this work catalogues. As literary study has broadened to include topics other than authors and their works, an author-related bibliography must embrace the surrounding culture as well. Just as The Eighteenth Century: A Current Bibliography includes all aspects of eighteenth-century studies, so Lynch's bibliography of Johnson and his age brings in Boswell, germane literary and historical studies, historical works relating to Johnson, and even the world of journalism, which constantly intersects with a popular figure like Johnson.

The first ten-year supplement to Johnsonian bibliography, that by Clifford and Greene (1962), showed that a decade yielded some 400 new studies of Johnson and his age. For a similar period, Lynch has found about 1,800, so we cannot doubt the expansion of literary studies in this area. Yet this growth comes at a time when numbers in the academic profession, the principal home of the commentators on literature, have been shrinking. Some fifty-five doctoral dissertations are catalogued here, about half of them being principally on Johnson or Boswell, a smaller number than for any decade since the 1960s. Perhaps more significant is that only about twenty percent of these dissertations had, within the span of this bibliography, led to further publication by their authors. Thus, at a time when entry into the academic field of eighteenth-century studies is stable or declining, already-established scholars are responsible for the majority of the publication. Ten to fifteen Johnsonians are responsible for almost twenty percent of all Johnsonian scholarship (and, it is a pleasure to note, one of these scholars is in Japan). One scholarly journal, The Age of Johnson, accounts for almost twenty percent of all entries in the Bibliography (there is some congruency between these two categories of writing). Among the doctoral dissertations, it is striking to note the decline of major centers of graduate education, both in the United States and in Great Britain, in the production of new holders of the Ph.D. degree with a dissertation relating to Johnson. We see here evidence of changing emphases within academic departments of English: the established schools in Britain and the U.S. have replaced an older generation of specialists in eighteenth-century studies with academics who cleave to recent literatures, to cultural studies, and to ancillary topics sometimes remote from Johnson and his circle.

The flourishing state of Johnsonian studies may therefore seem paradoxical, but there are credible reasons for this circumstance. Within the academic world, the appearance of the first scholarly journal devoted solely to Johnson and his age has clearly had a measurable impact: The Age of Johnson, in its first ten volumes, has printed more than five thousand pages of academic essays and reviews. The controversy over the extent of the influence of Jacobitism in the eighteenth century has had an impact on Johnsonian studies as well, as scholars have debated what the effect of Jacobitism may have been on Johnson and his friends. The emergence of a new sub-specialty within eighteenth-century studies, the history of publishing and of the circulation of literature, much aided by the introduction of one of the greatest research tools of the last fifty years, The Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue, has much to do with Johnson and his circle, for Johnson is the quintessential example of the successful author whose career is profoundly involved with publishing and the world of print. The growth of women's studies as a topic in eighteenth-century English culture has affected Johnsonian studies as well, since Johnson wrote about women extensively, encouraged women's literary careers, and was the subject of much contemporary writing by women. A largely younger generation of women scholars has helped discover Johnson's associations with these topics, and the results of this endeavor are reflected in the following pages. Finally, since 1986, there has been a growth of popularity of academic subjects among the general literate Anglo-American audience; this surge is hardly dramatic, but it is discernible and it has touched Johnsonian studies. In the thirty-five years prior to the publication of Vance's supplement to Clifford and Greene, an academic book on a Johnsonian topic might typically receive from five to ten reviews, most of them in a small number of academic journals. But within the compass of this Bibliography, we can note an appreciable change. Many Johnsonian studies now receive fifteen to twenty reviews, and the reviewing journals are no longer just scholarly quarterlies; they include journalistic reviews and magazines and, for certain books, newspapers as well. The publishers of a few Johnsonian books have successfully sought a mass audience: Richard Holmes's Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage (item 489), for instance, collected some two dozen reviews, almost all of them from the popular press. Bruce Redford's edition of The Letters of Samuel Johnson (item 557), which appeared in two instalments, bridged the scholarly and the popular, for it attracted more than three dozen reviews from an assortment of scholarly journals, weekly reviews, and daily newspapers. Lynch is the first bibliographer of Johnson separately to index book reviews and, has he notes, he has found more than 500 of them, an astonishing measure of the growing popularity of Johnson and his age at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986-1998 is an accounting, then, of where we find Johnsonian studies at the close of the century in which the serious academic study of Johnson began, while it is also a benchmark against which scholars will measure themselves in the decade leading to the tercentenary of Johnson's birth in 2009.

University of Pennsylvania


Johnsonians have long relied on the series of bibliographies begun by James L. Clifford in 1951 and continued by Donald J. Greene and John A. Vance. Clifford and Greene's Samuel Johnson: A Survey and Bibliography of Critical Studies (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1970) and Greene and Vance's Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1970-1985 (Victoria: Univ. of Victoria, 1987) together provide coverage of primary and secondary Johnsoniana from the beginnings to the mid-eighties. This bibliography picks up where they leave off, cataloguing over 1,800 items by or about Samuel Johnson published since 1985, the last year covered in Greene and Vance. It therefore brings the series of bibliographies up to date through the end of 1998 (with less thorough coverage into 1999), and includes a small number of items omitted from previous instalments.

A slightly different version of this bibliography appeared in The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, 10 (1999). This pamphlet publication includes recent additions, a small number of corrections, some additional information (including page numbers for books), and an additional index. For ease of reference, nearly all the item numbers are the same in both bibliographies; last-minute additions are indicated by postfixed letters, a very few deletions result in skipped numbers, and only a few rearrangements have resulted in changed numbers.


The items covered here range from scholarly editions and monographs through wood engravings of Johnson's cats and an episode of the sitcom Blackadder. I have tried to include every book, journal essay, dissertation, book review, newspaper or magazine article, or book chapter that makes some substantial contribution to Johnsonian studies, using the same selection criteria that guided Clifford and Greene: "Only those which appear to add something to our knowledge about the man or his works, which contribute some original interpretation or, occasionally, which are outstanding in obtuseness of critical opinion (useful for teachers and historians) have been included." I have excluded those pieces that seem to me to be of no lasting value — especially ephemera such as printed announcements of events for the various Johnson Societies, posters, bookmarks, sales brochures, postcards, and so on — but some significant items have doubtless escaped my attention. Tracking down reviews and book chapters especially has sometimes been difficult work, and it shall be found, I am afraid, that much is omitted.

In a few respects, the scope of coverage of this bibliography is broader than that of the Clifford-Greene-Vance series. Whereas they were selective in cataloguing dissertations and theses, I have tried to be more inclusive, including as many relevant doctoral-level dissertations and theses as I could find, and even a few M.A. theses which have been catalogued by major libraries. And for the first time, electronic resources have made their way into the bibliography. Two major editions — one of the Dictionary, another of Johnson's and Boswell's nearly complete works — have appeared on CD-ROM, and are catalogued here. Other electronic works, however, are less suited to inclusion in a printed bibliography. Web sites, for instance, appear, disappear, and change location so quickly that they present the bibliographer with a moving target, and I have therefore decided against trying to catalogue Internet sites and on-line electronic texts in print.

However the scope of the coverage is defined, however, the number of items included is staggering: more than 1,200 books and articles, with over 500 book reviews. This attention paid to Johnson over the last decade is perhaps surprising, given the critical climate of the eighties and nineties. These are the years that saw a number of self-conscious glances at the profession — The New Eighteenth Century, The Profession of Eighteenth-Century Literature — and in few of them did Johnson figure large. Poststructuralism and cultural studies, it seems, have left Johnsonian studies nearly untouched; a search of the MLA International Bibliography for "Johnson, Samuel and Foucault, Michel" produces no results; and few scholars who pursue the newly fashionable topics of class, race, gender, and sexuality have found Johnson a congenial figure for study. To many, Johnson is the definitive dead white male, and therefore easily dismissed.

This lack of attention from au courant critics, however, is hardly warranted. The 1992 special issue of South Central Review (item 486), for instance, shows that Johnson and women is a fruitful topic, and studies of Johnson's attitudes toward black slaves and the working poor suggest that those who preach the contemporary liturgy on class, race, and gender would find much to say about him if they were only to look. The vitality and sheer volume of scholia on Johnson's life and works over the last decade is a testimony to his continuing importance.


The earlier Johnsonian bibliographies were organized around a taxonomy developed by Clifford in 1951 (and modified slightly by Clifford and Greene in 1970), in which each item was listed under a topical rubric. Although the system has held up well over the decades, much scholarship in the eighties and nineties does not lend itself to the kind of simple categorization possible in the age of New Criticism. Interdisciplinarity has been a favorite buzzword in recent years, and comparative studies are now far more common than they were fifty years ago. (Even in 1970, Clifford and Greene acknowledged that "the 'various subjects' . . . may seem a very mixed bag.") Such changes in critical fashion pose special problems for the bibliographer. Is Chester Chapin's "Religion and the Nature of Samuel Johnson's Tory ism," for example, better catalogued under Clifford's heading 20, "Political and Economic Writings and Views," or heading 24, "Diaries, Prayers, Sermons (Includes Discussions of Johnson's Religious Beliefs)"? Or should it just be lumped in an omnibus category like 10/6, "General Assessments of Johnson and Miscellaneous Comment," or 11/9, "Johnson's Thought"? The number of such problem cases seemed too large to make the old categories practical.

The categories themselves, moreover, are begining to show their age, as changes in scholarly interest over the last half-century have rendered many headings obsolete and left other areas uncovered. To categorize Margaret Anne Doody's piece on "The Law, the Page, and the Body of Women: Murder and Murderess in the Age of Johnson," for instance, under 11/8, "Johnson's Views and Attitudes on Various Subjects: Women and Marriage," looks positively condescending, and yet the old taxonomy provides nothing more fitting. Clifford in 1951 could not have foreseen many topics of modern critical interest, and even if an article like Tim Dean's Lacanian reading of Johnson's lexicographical theory could be shoe-horned into category 3, "Medical and Psychological Works," there's simply nowhere to put many studies informed by postcolonial theory, gender studies, and deconstruction.

Rather than pigeonholing essays into the nearest available category, therefore, or reworking the entire taxonomy, I have listed items alphabetically by their authors, and then chronologically by their date of publication; main entries are numbered sequentially. Editions appear under the name of their authors (e.g., Johnson, Boswell, Chambers) rather than their editors, while reviews appear after the books they comment on. An index of subjects at the end refers to items by number, an arrangement that allows individual items to be indexed under any number of headings. Not every item is indexed, as some are too general to warrant it. An additional index lists named book reviewers, again by item number.

In one other respect have I departed from the precedent of Clifford, Greene, and Vance: they pointed readers toward "works we strongly feel that the student of Johnson should not neglect" with an asterisk. Clifford recognized this as "a particularly dangerous device"; whatever the danger, I have simply not had the temerity to pick and choose among so many works. For books, the number of reviews — especially those in scholarly journals — provides at least a rough measure of their critical interest.

Greene and Vance mention "an eternal problem of Johnsonian bibliography," the tendency of other Johnsons to insinuate their way into their work: Uwe Johnson was their most frustrating interloper. I have faced the same problem. The most confusing instance: a series of newspaper headlines referred to Dr. Johnson's winning a number of prizes — which struck me as curious over two centuries after his death. When I saw that the same Dr. Johnson's knee injury would make him unable to run next week, I realized I was dealing not with the Great Cham but with a racehorse. I hope I have succeeded in restricting the entries to "our" Johnson.

Rutgers University — Newark


I owe thanks to both institutions and individuals for help in compiling this bibliography. I'm grateful to the staffs of Van Pelt Library of the University of Pennsylvania, the Dana and Alexander Libraries of Rutgers University, Firestone Library of Princeton University, the Bobst Library of New York University, the Butler Library of Columbia University, the Newark Public Library, the New York Public Library, the British Library, the University of Birmingham Library, and the Bodleian Library. Barry Baldwin, James G. Basker, Lisa Berglund, Michael Bundock, J. C. D. Clark, Greg Clingham, Matthew Davis, Robert DeMaria, Catherine Dille, W. C. Dowling, Robert Folkenflik, Tetsu Fujii, Charles H. Hinnant, Nicholas Hudson, Paul J. Korshin, Anne McDermott, Michael J. Marcuse, Daisuke Nagashima, Mark Pedreira, Adam Potkay, Steven Scherwatzky, Richard B. Sher, Stuart Sherman, Aaron Stavisky, Paul Tankard, Daniel Traister, Howard Weinbrot, and Lance Wilcox all provided additions and corrections, for which I am grateful. And while the number of times his name appears below (with over two dozen books, articles, and reivews) is a testament to the debt all Johnsonians owe to the late Donald J. Greene, I am particularly grateful that he was kind enough to read through and comment on an entire earlier draft of this bibliography in the days immediately before his death.