Entries by Wayne Jones

Johnson at 60

As I post this blog entry, I myself am about 20 hours from turning 60, and so in thinking about my own life I also thought about Johnson’s at the same age. He was 60 in 1769. By that time, he had published most of the major works of his life — his influential edition […]

“So Rough a Letter”

Well, enough about sex (here, here!), for now. One of Johnson’s closest friends in his latter years, and frankly one that accommodated him (literally and figuratively) and put up with a lot of his idiosyncrasies, was Hester Thrale. He met her for the first time in 1765, when he was 55 and she was 23, […]

Johnson, Elizabeth Carter, and Stand-up Comedy

If you collected all of the things that Johnson said and assumed about women, as reported by Boswell and others, and showed them to 21st-century eyes, it wouldn’t necessarily portray a positive or progressive stance. Some of his words have become pretty infamous, like the one about what it’s like to witness a woman preaching […]

Johnson as Letter Writer

Johnson was an excellent writer, was able to compose his sentences quickly if necessary, and didn’t hesitate to say exactly what was on his mind. Sometimes the latter manifested in tersely blunt assessments or advice, and sometimes it was couched in language that was no less frank but a bit more diplomatic and respectful. Many […]