Featuring Samuel Johnson's best-known work, A Dictionary of the English Language.
Three readings featuring extracts from Samuel Johnson's major works introduced by his biographer, David Nokes.
Samuel Johnson (better known as Dr Johnson) was born in Lichfield in September 1709.
Half-blind, shambolic and poverty-stricken, he became the most admired and quoted man in the eighteenth century.
The son of a bookseller, lack of funds forced him to leave Oxford before taking a degree and, after a stint as a teacher, he travelled to London in search of work.
Beginning as a Grub Street journalist, Johnson made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, novelist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
A devout Anglican and political conservative, Johnson has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history".
His most famous work is, without doubt, A Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755.
It was not the most accurate dictionary, nor the most comprehensive, but it became widely recognised as the first standard dictionary until publication of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later.
Other major works by Johnson are, among others, his Lives of the English Poets including his biography of Richard Savage; the novella, Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia; his notes on The Plays of William Shakespeare; The Idler essays; The Rambler magazine and A Journey to The Western Isles of Scotland.
In these three programmes, David Nokes, author of a biography of Johnson, introduces a series of extracts from the great man's work.
In chronological order, we work our way through his literary life.
Today's episode features a reading from one of his early biographies, The Life of Richard Savage, and an extract from his most famous work, the Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language.
Read by Michael Pennington
Introduced by Professor David Nokes
Produced by Joanna Green
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.