Entries by Wayne Jones

Writing Biography

The whole concept of biography, that is, the writing of the story of one person’s life by some other person, is inextricably tied up in the very name of Samuel Johnson. A sizeable portion of the writing that Johnson did during his own life was biography. One of his earliest published works was biographical in […]

Travelling Fast and Slow

I was at a car show recently where one of the extras I paid for was the opportunity to be in the passenger seat of a powerful car (I always think of poor Kinbote and his “powerful Kramler” in Pale Fire when that word comes up automotively) as it raced down the runway at a […]

Not a Doctor

It’s an ironic fact that a man who is now often referred to as “Dr. Johnson” never actually graduated from university. He was awarded three honorary degrees during his lifetime: from Oxford University in 1755 (just in time so that he could style himself “A.M.” – master of arts – on the title page of […]

Hapax What?

One of my favouritie literary terms that I learned when I was studying English at university in the 1970s and 1980s was hapax legomenon, which in literary studies generally refers to the literally unique use of a word in a particular context, oeuvre, corpus, and so on. I first came upon it in Shakespeare studies: […]

Samuel and Vladimir

One of the surprising and pleasing things I’ve discovered so far in the course of my research for the book is that one of my favourite 20th-century authors was also a fan of Johnson. Or perhaps not a fan – especially when you are talking about Vladimir Nabokov and his attitude toward literature, you shouldn’t […]

Me, Sam, and the Reader

I used to write fiction in the 1990s and early 2000s — short stories at first, and then novels. Some of the stories were published in literary journals, and one even won an erotic fiction contest (yes, even though I am a librarian). I published two of the novels myself. You can see them all […]

Research for the Book

I am carrying out research for the book in some of the same ways that any researcher or scholar would. In addition to the primary sources, there are several full, authoritative, scholarly biographies of Johnson that have been published over the years, as well of course as a small mountain of articles and other smaller […]

Wayne Jones on a book entitled My Sam Johnson

I first met Samuel Johnson during one of the courses I took at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, as part of my Bachelor of Arts (Honours) studies. It was likely the 18th-century survey course, 404A or 404B, “British Literature, 1700-1784,” which I took in the fall of 1980 and the winter of 1981. I […]