Dr Johnson's House Trust

Dr Johnson's House Trust

At a glance


  • Museums / heritage

Other details

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Samuel Johnson, one of the most frequently quoted Englishmen and a globally-important literary figure, lived at 17 Gough Square while writing his iconic Dictionary of the English Language (1755) and many other seminal works. What is perhaps less well known is that Johnson started his career as a schoolmaster and his former servant and protégé, Francis Barber, used his inheritance from Johnson to set up a school, the first recorded formerly enslaved person and Black man in Britain to do so. Johnson also suffered from a range of physical and mental health challenges and provided a home for the impoverished poet and translator, Anna Williams, who had lost her sight at a young age. Johnson's wider circle included Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Elizabeth Carter and many of the other leading lights of the Age of Enlightenment. Through the stories of the people who walked through these doors, we can bring to life a diverse range of issues that resonate today, including: literacy, literature, and history; friendship and grief; power and slavery; gender and identity; and living with mental and physical disabilities. 

The House itself was built in the late 17th century and is a remarkably untouched time capsule with a wide range of original features. Founded in 1911, Dr Johnson's House Trust's mission is to preserve this building for the nation and promote learning and scholarship. We welcome visitors from around the world, present workshops for 3,000 students a year, and are embarking on a transformational time as we seek to broaden and diversify our appeal, develop new income streams, enhance learning, and undertake capital works to enhance the visitor experience and improve accessibility.


In addition to preserving and interpreting the House, we mount changing exhibitions, run learning programmes and other events, and participate in the global Johnsonian community. 

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