Museum Spotlight: Dr Johnson’s House

As part of the International Network of Language Museums, we’re in great company. The 11 member museums span 10 countries and 3 continents, and we thought you might like to hear about the fascinating work they do. Read on to learn about Dr Johnson’s House, the museum housed in a 300-year old building where Samuel Johnson compiled the Dictionary of the English Language.

Dr Johnson’s House is situated in a maze of courts and alleys in the center of London. The House is a registered charity and an independent, fully accredited museum open to the public. Visitors can explore the 17th- and 18th-century architecture, enjoy the research library, and even try on the era’s fashionable costumes. Take an audio-visual tour and discover the world of Samuel Johnson, who lived and worked here from 1748 to 1759, accompanied by his pet cat, Hodge. In addition to their collection, Dr Johnson’s house offers a variety of free and low-cost workshops for schools, tour groups, and presentations.

Linguist and lexicographer Samuel Johnson achieved prominence with the Dictionary of the English Language, which was held as the gold standard of English dictionaries until the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary 173 years later. Johnson was commissioned to write the text by a group of London booksellers, and he did so almost single-handedly over the course of nine years.

Dr Johnson’s House continues to encourage the learning and scholarship practiced by its namesake. What was an empty and derelict building by the start of the 20th century has been given new life after being purchased and restored by philanthropist Cecil Harmsworth. Today, the Dr Johnson’s House Trust is dedicated to preserving Harmsworth’s belief that the House should always feel like a home, not a “stuffy museum”.

To learn more, visit their website or subscribe to the newsletter here.

Photo Credit: Dr Johnson’s House