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1.75 linear feet (6 boxes)
Other particularly noteworthy correspondents were actor David Garrick (1717-1779); the painters Frances Reynolds (1729-1807) and Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792); and novelist Samuel Richardson (1689-1761). Regular correspondents represented most heavily in the collection include Mrs. Thrale's daughter Hester (later Hester Maria Elphinstone, Viscountess Keith, 1764-1857); friend and protege Bennet Langton (1737-1801); stepdaughter Lucy Porter (1715-1786); and boyhood friend John Taylor (1711-1788).
Biographical / Historical
A native of Lichfield, Johnson attended Oxford in 1728 and 1729, but left without receiving a degree. He married the widow Elizabeth Porter (1688-1752) in 1735; they had no children together. Johnson resided primarily in London from 1737 onward, although he continued to maintain a house in Lichfield. He received an honorary M.A. from Oxford in 1755, and honorary LL.D. degrees from Trinity College, Dublin in 1765 and from Oxford in 1775. He supported himself modestly from his literary endeavors until being granted an annual pension in 1762. He was memorialized in James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791), generally regarded as an early landmark of the biographical craft.
- I. Letters, 1731-1784
- II. Transcripts, 1762-1784
- III. Reproductions, 1780-1784
- IV. Letters acquired since 2003, 1759-1784
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2004M-137. Purchased with funds from the Margaret F. Cowett Book Fund; Raymond Livingston Kilgour and Kate Gray Kilgour Fund; and Louis J. Appell Junior Fund for British Civilization in the Harvard College Library, 2004.
2005M-3. Purchased with funds from the Endowment Fund for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection, 2005.
2009M-45. Purchased with funds from the Endowment Fund for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection, 2009.
2011M-58. Purchased with funds from the Endowment Fund for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection, 2011.
2012M-4. Purchased with funds from the Endowment Fund for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection, 2012.
2012M-187. Purchased with funds from the Endowment Fund for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection, 2013.
2014M-163. Purchased with funds from the Endowment Fund for the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection, 2015 June 15.
Hyde Editionin the inventory, with the corresponding volume and page numbers.
The material not in the Hyde Edition includes full letters: to Thomas Cadell dated 1778 Oct. 17, item (15); to Thomas Lawrence, 1780 Aug. 18, item (66); to Thomas Percy, 1769 Nov. 10, item (91); to Henry Thrale, 1775 May 6, item (111); and to Charles Burney, 1778 Jan. 29, item (142).
Redford also worked from transcripts of eight letters without having the opportunity of seeing the originals, most of which were acquired by Lady Eccles after Redford had completed his editing. These include letters to: William Langley, 1783 May, item (62); Thomas Lawrence, 1783 Apr. 16, item (66); Hannah More, undated, item (78); John and Amelia Perkins, 1784 Jan. 11, item (92); Hester Lynch Piozzi, 1777 Mar. 27, 1777 Nov. 3, and 1782 Feb. 17, item (93); and an unidentified correspondent, 1780 Feb. 25, item (123). The two 1777 Piozzi letters contain substantial additional text.
Finally, Redford also did not include six short fragments addressed to: William Adams, item (1); James Boswell, item (9); William Duncombe, item (31); Andrew Millar, item (76); Mary Welch Nollekins, item (83); and Hester Lynch Piozzi, item (93). Redford also did not include the three closing lines from a letter dated 1783 July 24 to Hester Maria Elphinstone, Viscountess Keith, item (61), which had been clipped from the letter. The missing fragment was added to the collection in 2005.
Some letters include compositions by Johnson which have been cataloged in the Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Vol. III, Part 2 (London: Mansell, 1989), pp 121-178, Margaret M. Smith, ed. These are noted in the guide with their appropriate
- Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784. Samuel Johnson letters, 1731-1784: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- EAD ID
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