Dr Johnson's House
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Home of Samuel Johnson while he wrote his Dictionary
The house has been restored to how it would have appeared during Johnson's lifetime, with many original features lovingly brought back to life. There is a research library and exhibitions about Johnson, his life, and times.
Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, in 1709 the son of a bookseller. From these humble beginnings he rose to become one of the leading literary figures of his age. But life was not always kind to Johnson; as a baby he suffered from scrofula, which left him disfigured with scars and suffering from poor eyesight and partial deafness. He attended Oxford University, but had to quit as his parents could not afford to keep him there. He started a school, but it failed, and so he left Lichfield and walked to London, to seek his fortune. There he worked as a writer for Gentleman's Magazine, and had minor success publishing his poetry and a biography of the poet Richard Savage.
The book was a huge success, and Johnson became one of the most celebrated men in London society, known for his sparkling conversation and sharp wit. He is generally acknowledge to be the second-most quoted writer in the English language, after Shakespeare. His most famous quip is '... when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’.
Though he continued to produce original works, including literary critiques, biographies, and essays, he was universally known as 'Dictionary Johnson', and it is for this single work that he is best remembered today.
17 Gough Square was built in the late 17th century by a wine merchant named Richard Gough. Though the exterior is red brick, the structure is actually timber-framed. Number 17 formed part of a new development of buildings around a courtyard, but it is the only one of the original development to survive. The house is 4 floors in height, with an open staircase. The interiors have wonderful period panelling. A few of Johnson's personal belongings have survived, though most were dispersed after his death.
The house itself was it several times by bombs, and the garret where Johnson wrote his Dictionary was badly damaged, but the house somehow survived and was restored.
A short distance from the House is Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese inn on Bolt Court, which Johnson knew well. Beside the House is a curator's house, built for the House custodian when Number 17 opened to the public. The Curator's cottage is thought to be the smallest house in the Square Mile of London.
About Dr Johnson's House
Address: 17 Gough Square, London, Greater London, England, EC4A 3DE
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: Up Bolt Court, north of Fleet Street
Website: Dr Johnson's House
Phone: 020 7353 3745
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Nearest station: Blackfriars - 0.3 miles (straight line) - Zone: 1
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NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
London, St Bride's Fleet Street - 0.1 miles (Historic Church)
Temple Church - 0.1 miles (Historic Church)
Prince Henry's Room - 0.1 miles (Historic Building)
London, St Andrew's Holborn Church - 0.2 miles (Historic Church)
Old Bailey Central Criminal Court - 0.2 miles (Historic Building)
St Clement Danes - 0.3 miles (Historic Church)
St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe - 0.3 miles (Historic Church)
Golden Boy of Pye Corner - 0.3 miles (Landmark)
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