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MS Eng 1754

Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784. Samuel Johnson additional letters and Hester Lynch Piozzi additional correspondence, 1761-1803: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: f
Call No.: MS Eng 1754
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784.
Title: Samuel Johnson additional letters and Hester Lynch Piozzi additional correspondence,
Date(s): 1761-1803.
Quantity: 1 collection (1 volume (.04 linear feet)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Letters written by Samuel Johnson and his close friends describing his and his colleague's health.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

2007M-3. Purchased with the Endowment Fund for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection; received: 2007 July 2.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Clinton Johnson

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Samuel Johnson Additional Letters and Hester Lynch Piozzi Additional Correspondence, 1761-1803 (MS Eng 1754). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

Other Johnson correspondence can be found at the Houghton Library, particularly MS Hyde 1.
Other Hester Lynch Piozzi correspondence can be found at the Houghton Library, particularly MS Hyde 3.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was one of the leading literary figures of eighteenth-century England. He is best remembered for compiling the first comprehensive dictionary of the English language, published in 1755. Prominent among his diverse other works are the satirical History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (1759), The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare (1765), and his edition of Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, to the Works of the English Poets (first collected in 1781). He wrote the bulk of the essays released in periodical form as The Rambler (1750-1752) and The Idler (1758-1760).
A native of Lichfield , Johnson attended Oxford in 1728 and 1729, but left without receiving a degree. He married the widow Elizabeth Porter (1688-1752) in 1735; they had no children together. Johnson resided primarily in London from 1737 onward, although he continued to maintain a house in Lichfield. He received an honorary M.A. from Oxford in 1755, and honorary LL.D. degrees from Trinity College , Dublin in 1765 and from Oxford in 1775. He supported himself modestly from his literary endeavors until being granted an annual pension in 1762. He was memorialized in James Boswell 's The Life of Samuel Johnson , LL.D. (1791), generally regarded as an early landmark of the biographical craft.
Hester Lynch Salusbury was born in Wales in 1741, and in 1763 married wealthy London brewer Henry Thrale (1728-1781). The Thrales divided their time between two London residences: at the brewery compound in Southwark , and at a larger country house at Streatham Park . After the Thrales were introduced to Samuel Johnson in 1765, Streatham Park became the center of an important coterie of literary, artistic, and political figures. Fanny Burney (1752-1840) became part of this group in 1778.
Henry Thrale died in 1781. In 1784, Hester married Gabriele Mario Piozzi (1740-1809), an Italian musician. The marriage was widely viewed as scandalous in London society, and terminated Hester's friendships with Johnson and Burney.


Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent.

Scope and Contents

Predominantly letters written by Samuel Johnson to his stepdaughter Lucy Porter. Samuel Johnson never had children of his own and wrote fondly to his stepdaughter, who was the child of his deceased wife, Elizabeth Porter. The letters largely discuss his health and the concerns he has for Lucy's health. Other letters in the collection are from Hester Lynch Piozzi to the writer Charles Burney. They discuss the health of friends and family (including Samuel Johnson) who frequented Streatham Park, which Piozzi fancied a literary lodge of sorts. Also includes a letter from William Ridlington to Piozzi, seeking critical advice on his new law paper, and discusses current day literature.

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