Edited by John Hawkins
Print Publication Year:2011
Online Publication Date:September 2011
Original Publication Year:1787
Subjects: English literature 1700-1830 , Renaissance and early modern literature
Dr Samuel Johnson (1709–84) is regarded as one of the outstanding figures of English literature, as a poet, essayist, moralist, critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. This collected edition of his works – commissioned by the publisher within hours of Johnson's death, such was his celebrity – was published in 1787 in eleven volumes, edited by his literary executor, the musicologist Sir John Hawkins. Volume 2 contains the first part of his Lives of the Poets, his last major work. This was a commission to provide short accounts of over fifty poets of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and set a new standard for English literary biography. Although not all of the subjects have been regarded as eminent by posterity, and Johnson was criticised for brusque treatment of well-connected courtier poets now largely forgotten, the work was a great success.