Samuel Johnson is famously known for single-handedly creating the first recognized dictionary of the English language, just one of many his many renowned accomplishments. The biography of this remarkable writer, dramatist, poet, and moralist was penned by his friend, James Boswell, in 1791.
An immediate success upon its publication, this work has come to be considered the greatest biography produced in the English language, and has earned Boswell the reputation as a wonderfully sharp and methodical artist of the biography. The wealth of detail and charming characterization of Johnson can be attributed to Boswell’s diligent journal-keeping and excellent memory. He often initiated psychologically probing conversations to explore Johnson’s character. He also collected a mass of letters to and about Johnson, and worked diligently to authenticate anecdotes about the man. The result of these efforts is a charming and accurate portrait of a literary idol.