23 - Dr Johnson

One of the most interesting persons in the field of language and literature is Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), byname Dr Johnson. He was born in Lichfield as the son of a bookseller and became poet, journalist, critic, lexicographer and much more. What is known about him we know from James Boswell’s “The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D." He married Mrs Elisabeth Porter, a widow 20 years his senior and is said to be the most-quoted man in literature. Two examples: "One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts." "Whatever you have, spend less." Despite having been - due to illnesses – a weak child, he was later of strong athletic build, his appetite was legendary and it is said that he often drank over 25 cups of tea on one sitting.

Dr Johnson became famous for“The Lives of The Poets” and "Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, two volumes thick, 2,300 pages long, 8 years of work – which was a milestone in the development of standards for the English language. He gave big space to ordinary words, illustrating their usage by quoting from writers like Shakespeare. But sometimes he was not unbiased. Here's his definition of oats: 'a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.' Obviously, he had a low opinion of the Scottish people.Johnson's dictionary was used by authors such as Oscar Wilde, William Wordsworth, the Brownings, Thomas Hardy,Charles Dickens and more.

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