05 April 2012

Dr Johnson's House Blog

Behind the scenes at Dr Johnson’s House we are hard at work cataloguing our library.  Samuel Johnson owned thousands of books on his death and these were sold at Christies in 1784 over several days’ sale.  Today we have three of those books in our library along with other highlights including two first editions of Johnson’s Dictionary, a growing collection of eighteenth-century dictionaries and books belonging to Johnson’s contemporaries James Boswell, Hester Thrale and Elizabeth Carter.  However, until this year there had been no electronic catalogue of the books and many people simply don’t realise the library is there as a research facility, open to all. Our Library Cataloguing Project is aiming to change all that. 

Following a successful fundraising appeal, the House has contracted specialist rare books cataloguer, Dr Sarah Cusk, to catalogue the books.  Our volunteers are also creating photographic records of each book, starting with the early printed works of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  We have now catalogued over 600 books and these will be available online – along with the launch of our new website – later this year.  So keep checking our website for the most up to date information: www.drjohnsonshouse.org.  Dr Johnson’s House will also be launching an ‘Adopt a book’ scheme to help conserve some of our valuable books and later this year we will install a new purpose-built display case in the library so that we can start showing the gems in our collection to our visitors.

“Alas, Madam! How few books are there of which one can ever possibly arrive at the last page ...” Samuel Johnson



Author: Stephanie Chapman, Curator

April 2012