The JSA well and truly celebrated the 250th anniversary of Johnson’s Dictionary at the Annual Seminar and Dinner on May 28.
Nick Hudson raised some interesting questions about the payment Johnson received from his bookseller publishers, and concluded that by modern monetary standards, he was well rewarded, but his personal “take” was considerable reduced by his suppor tfor the numerous dependants who lived with him at Gough Square and for his impoverished amanuenses.
Kate Burridge explored how Johnson dealt with the perennial problem of the lexicographer – just what words are “fit” for inclusion in a dictionary to avoid “the corruptions of ignorance and caprices of innovation.”
The dictionary as a book for reading and the consideration of Johnson as an author as well as a lexicographer formed the basis of Paul Tankard’s engaging paper.
Other papers, not related to the Dictionary, were Wal McDougall’s enlightening examination of three Lichfield writer from 18th Century Lichfield—Samuel Johnson, Erasmus Darwin and Anna Seward, and John Wiltshire’s fascinating account of Fanny Burney’s records of her close friendship with Johnson and her less welcome encounters with Boswell.
A record 40 people attended the seminar, which was agreed to be “one of the best.”