The Johnson Society of Australia

Celebrating the life and work of the 18th Century writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson and his circle.

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We notch up our first 20 years!

A memorial by Bryan Reid

October 9, 2013 will mark the 20th anniversary of the foundation of The Johnson Society of Australia, at the end of a seminar at the Council of Adult Education, Melbourne.

The birth of the JSA was a somewhat prolonged, but enjoyable process. It had begun two years earlier, at a similar CAE seminar when I first met the three who helped provide the impetus for getting an Australian Johnson Society off the ground.

They were the late Dr Rusi Khan, then Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Monash University, Prof Clive Probyn,  then Head of English at Monash and Dr John Wiltshire (now Professor Emeritus) then Senior Lecturer in English at Latrobe University. (more…)

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Johnson and Swift in Wales

Our eighteenth Annual Fleeman Memorial Lecture was given at the 2012 AGM by inaugural President, Emeritus Professor Clive Probyn. Clive is a renowned international scholar of the 18the Century, specialising in Jonathon Swift and Dr Johnson.

He has also done distinguished scholarly work editing the novels of Australia’s Henry Handel Richardson, and is the winner of the prestigious Centennial Medal for Service to English and Australian Literature. He has published more than 20 books.

Clive treated members and friends to an engaging, scholarly account of Johnson’s and Swift’s view of Wales and the Welch, as revealed in their travel writings and letters.

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New President for the JSA
Barrie Sheppard and John Byrne

New President for the JSA

John Byrne is the new President of the Johnson Society of Australia, after his election at the Society’s Annual General Meeting on October 13.

John is a foundation member of the JSA, having joined at the seminar conducted in conjunction with the Council of Adult Education in Melbourne in 1993, when he was elected the Society’s Treasurer.

 

John is Australia’s leading private collector of Johnson and Johnsoniana, and was a barrister in Perth before retiring this year to his home state of Victoria, where his house in Castlemaine accommodates his book collection in a purpose-built library.

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Seminar Timetable

17th Annual Seminar Program10:30-11am:         Registration and Morning Tea11:00-11:45am      Hester Piozzi’s Grand and Ironic Tour - Dr Chloe Chard11:45am-12:00pm Eighteenth Century words (“stub” paper) - Prof Kate Burridge12:00-12.15pm:    The Patron Saint…

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2011 Annual Seminar

The 17th Annual Seminar of The Johnson Society of Australia will he held on Saturday July 9 at the usual venue, the English Speaking Union, beginning with registration at 11am and the first paper to be delivered at 11.30.
The program, which continues to follow the format introduced two years ago, comprises three full-length papers and four “stub” papers – the feature which has proved so popular with our audiences.
We are honoured this year to welcome the distinguished  scholar, Dr Chloe Chard,  a literary historian who lives in London, and who has published widely on travel writing and art criticism. Dr Chard’s paper is concerned with the book written by Mrs Hester Piozzi (Thrale) about her European tour, Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany (1789). 

Other  speakers will be Daniel Vuillemin, who puts the case for a special joint biography of Samuel Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Barbara Niven , who will talk about the development of the forte-piano in the 18th Century and its subsequent influence on music generally.

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How Johnson encouraged literary ladies of his time
John Wiltshire surrounded by literary ladies

How Johnson encouraged literary ladies of his time

Our sixteenth annual Fleeman Memorial Lecture was given at the 2010 AGM by Past-President, now Vice President, Professor John Wiltshire. John, a founding member of the JSA, is an internationally renowned scholar of 18th century studies, specialising in among other things, Johnson and Jane Austen.

His lecture was entitled Samuel Johnson and Literary Ladies. John set the detail of Johnson’s involvement with female writers of his circle in the context of a time of transition: a time between the end of patronage and the eventual establishing of a readership that could provide a writer with a living.

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A visit to the Gallery not to be missed!
The Portland Vase

A visit to the Gallery not to be missed!

JSA president Barrie Sheppard, in his other role as a recently-appointed official guide for the National Gallery of Victoria, will give a brief lecture at the Gallery on April 3 on the notorious history of the original Portland Vase, and how Josiah Wedgewood reproduced it to create his great masterpiece and in so doing established his famous jasperware.

Wedgewood’s connection with Johnson’s Lichfield will also be revealed.

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