Over the Easter weekend we went to Lichfield – just because we’d never been there before – and had a wander round the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. The large house where Johnson was born, and lived for the first 27 years of his life, is now a museum dedicated to Johnson’s life, covering his childhood through to his compilation of the dictionary. The house is more of a museum than a home, though the cosy kitchen where the young Johnson read prolifically is nicely evocative, as is his bookbinder father’s office. The rest of the house is mostly devoted to the impressive and interesting collections owned by the museum, including letters, books and pictures relating not only to the Johnsons but also to the actor David Garrick, another famous son of Lichfield.
The museum has not only information about Johnson alongside some of his works, it also intersperses exhibition items with quotations, which enthused me to go and read more Johnson; he’s witty as well as wise. The displays give a nice sense of Johnson the man as well as his work, and sets him in the context of the period in which he was writing. For an insight into his life and times, a visit here is well worth while, and I was pleased to see some quite young children enjoying the museum too. For more on Johnson’s writing, have a look at this post.