Born in Lichfield, England, Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was a man of diligence and skill who overcame childhood blindness and adversity.
"No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous," wrote Johnson. Often quoted, highly respected, he was considered an 18th century giant of literature. With superb style, he celebrated morality and mankind.
"In all pointed sentences," he explained, "some degree of accuracy must be sacrificed to conciseness."
Best known for the ambitious, massive Dictionary of the English Language (1755), which took him over seven years to create. Johnson's masterpiece became one of the most important works ever compiled and included 43,500 words.
"The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope," he wrote in The Rambler.
His Shakespeare (1765) version was the model for later interpretations. A lover of biolgraphy, his collection of essays in Lives of the Poets (1779-81) demonstrated his lighthearted wit and reflective wisdom.
"The applause of a single human being is of great consequence," Dr. Johnson said.
In 1764, Johnson founded The Literary Club for writers and artists. One member, James Boswell, wrote The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), the famous biography which captured the wisdom of Johnson's conversations and brilliance of his judgment and writing.
"A man may be so much of everything that he is nothing of anything," Johnson believed.
Ah, it's a lovely thing to know a thing or two.