Lichfield museum chosen to join new national project

Large-Dictionary-SpinesThe Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in Lichfield is one of ten Staffordshire centres to have been chosen to join a new national project.

A History of the World is a unique partnership between the BBC, British Museum and 340 museums nationwide. Each regional museum has selected an object which has local, national and international significance as part of the project. The Birthplace Museum has chosen a first edition of Johnson’s famous Dictionary of the English Language as its star object.

Lichfield’s most famous son left his birth place in his twenties to find work as a writer in London. In 1746 he was approached by a group of printers and publishers with the project of writing the Dictionary. Johnson worked for nine years with a group of assistants at a house in Gough Square, London.

Although it was written in London, Johnson’s early life in Lichfield played an important part in shaping the encyclopaedic memory that helped him to complete the task, as he spent his childhood reading the books in his father’s shop on the Market Square.

Johnson’s was not the very first Dictionary, but it was the most concise and complete one produced up to the time, and the first to include examples of usages.

Joanne Wilson from the Birthplace Museum said:

“A History of the World is an incredibly exciting project and we are delighted to be involved. It is great to see Lichfield recognised nationally as both a centre of historical importance and a vibrant cultural attraction today, and we hope that many local people will join in our activities related to the project over the coming year.”

The Dictionary is on permanent display at the Birthplace Museum, alongside interactive activities for children and adults alike. Entrance is free of charge and the Museum is open daily from 11am to 3.30pm (10.30am to 4.30pm April-September). Events will take place throughout the year, beginning with half term activities in February. For more information call 01543 264 972, visit www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk or pop into the Museum on Breadmarket Street.

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