By Webteam - 15th April 2018 6:01am
Published on 15th April 1755 A Dictionary of the English Language, written by Samuel Johnson and sometimes published as Johnson's Dictionary, is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language.
Commissioned 1746 by a group of London booksellers for the sum of 1,500 guineas — equivalent to about £220,000 today — it took Johnson seven years to complete the work, despite his early assurances that he could do so in three. He completed the dictionary alone, with only clerical assistance to copy illustrative quotations which he had selected and marked in books.
Up until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 173 years afterwards, Johnson's was considered the pre-eminent English dictionary and "easily ranks as one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship, and probably the greatest ever performed by one individual who laboured under anything like the disadvantages in a comparable length of time".
A Dictionary of the English Language was somewhat large and very expensive. Its pages were 18 inches / 46 cm tall and nearly 20 inches / 51 cm wide. No bookseller could possibly hope to print the book without and outside of a few special editions of the Bible no book of this heft and size had even been set to type.
The first edition was the 1755 'Folio', comprising two large volumes and featuring full literary quotes by those authors that Johnson quoted, such as Dryden and Shakespeare. It was followed a few weeks later by a second edition published in 165 weekly parts.
An abridged edition was published in 1756 in two volumes with entries, "abstracted from the folio edition by the author", laid out as two columns per page. This version did not feature the literary quotes, just the author quoted. This made it cheaper to produce and buy and it sold over a thousand copies a year for the next 30 years bringing "The Dictionary" to the reach of every literate home.
How many words did the original edition of the dictionary contain?
The first edition contained 42,773 word.
popular recent storiesAlso in the news
URGENT — Assistance RequiredMy parents live on a narrow boat and can be frequently seen in Audlem, so people may even know the hat! They often help fellow boaters and I would really appreciate support form the community.My Dad lost his hat on Wednesday 11th July in Market Drayton at around 10am.It's a cream Trilby/Panama style, with a black band with lots of badges around the brim...
Judy has let us know that the dog has happily been reunited with its owner.Michelle Gultekin sent this in:This old lady was found wandering the village at 8.15pm yesterday. She is with Judy at the newsagents, being looked...
The Cheshire East Highways website reports that Stafford Street (the A525 to Woore) will be closed just by the Church from July 10th (Tuesday) for seven days.The closure is to allow scaffolding to be erected to repair a dangerous roof.Further information will be provided as it is...
Sunday 15th Jul
Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, Widnes
4,Hayfields Grove, off Moorsfield Avenue
Audlem Car Park