This seminal volume, published on 15 April 1755 and written by Samuel Johnson, is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language. In June 1746 a group of London booksellers contracted Johnson to write a dictionary for the sum of 1,500 guineas (£1,575), equivalent to about £220,000 today. Johnson took nearly 9 years to complete the work, having claimed he could finish it in three. Remarkably, he did so single-handedly, with only clerical assistance to copy out the illustrative quotations that he had marked in books. Johnson produced several revised editions during his life. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 173 years later, Johnson's was viewed as the pre-eminent English dictionary. According to Walter Jackson Bate, the Dictionary "easily ranks as one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship, and probably the greatest ever performed by one individual who labored under anything like the disadvantages in a comparable length of time."
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of "the most famous single biographical work in the whole of literature," James Boswell's "Life of Samuel Johnson". A tall, robust man, it is now thought that he may have suffered from Tourette syndrome; after his death he was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Our (single volume) copy of this famous book is in extraordinarily good condition for its age, bound in full black calf, with a partitioned spine bearing the title and author's name in gilt on maroon leather panels, small gilt floral & corner motifs in the alternate segments, and the date in gilt at the bottom. All page edges are gilt. There is a little wear and chipping to the edges of the covers and the corners, and a mark on the back cover, but nothing seriously detrimental. Inside, the pale blue endpapers are intact, and may be of a later date than the rest of the volume, the paper quality feeling more 'modern'. An owner's name is inscribed on the first original blank page. The text block is clean-cut, and the pages generally bright, with some tan staining to some sections. It is unpaginated. This appears to be an excellent copy of the 11th edition of the Dictionary, possibly with more recent endpapers, but apparently in its original cover.