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JOHNSON, Samuel.

A Dictionary of the English Language.

In which the Words are Deduced from their Originals, and Illustrated in their Different Significations by Examples from the Best Writers. To which are Prefixed a History of the English Language and an English Grammar.

London: printed by W. Strahan, for A. Millar, T. Longman, J. Dodsley, W. Strahan, J. Rivington, [& 15 others in London], 1765 Stock Code: 144646
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The third edition, in contemporary reversed calf

Third edition of the most famous of all dictionaries, following the first edition of 1755, in the same imposing double-folio format as its predecessor.

The creation of the dictionary was Johnson's greatest literary labour. Helped by a succession of needy amanuenses who worked in the surprisingly spacious garret of his house in Gough Square, he experienced the death of his wife and underwent agonies of procrastination before finally completing the task in his 46th year. As his use of 114,000 illustrative quotations shows, Johnson clearly intended to combine lexicography with entertainment and instruction. It was always to be called "Johnson's Dictionary", and the national pride taken in the project was expressed by the poet Christopher Smart when he wrote in the Universel Visitor: "I look upon it with equal amazement, as I do upon St. Paul's Cathedral; each the work of one man, each the work of an Englishman" (quoted by Henry Hitchings, Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, London, 2005, pp. 199-200).

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2 volumes, folio (406 x 261 mm). Contemporary reversed calf, red morocco labels.


Notation of acquisition in 1767 to front pastedown of vol. I, both front pastedowns with contemporary bookplate of Plummer of Middlefield, 19th-century shelf label of Sunderland Hall, and early 20th-century bookseller's ticket of R. D. Steedman of Newcastle. Joints split but holding, light wear at spine ends, leather and endbands discreetly repaired in places. Contents clean, slightly clunky paper repair to leaf C1 affecting text with minor loss, short closed tear not affecting text to 9S2 and 19Z1, scattered light foxing. A very good copy.


Alston V 179; Courtney and Smith, p. 55; ESTC T118173; PMM 201 for first edition.


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