Google Doodle celebrates English poet Dr Samuel Johnson's 308th birthday

Doris Richards
September 18, 2017

On what would have been his 308th birthday, Google Doodle paid homage to Johnson for being a "pioneer lexicographer who dedicated years to his craft".

After suffering from gout and various illnesses, and being afflicted with a condition that has been likened to modern-day Tourettes, Johnson fell into a coma and died on 13 December, 1784, his final words said to have been "Iam Moriturus", or "I who am about to die". The rolling text animation on top of the image then goes on to describe the word as "A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words". He is the subject of the most famous biography in English literature, namely The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell.

Often referred to as Dr Johnson, Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffs.in 1709 - appropriately above the family's bookshop.


Born in 1709 to a bookseller and his wife in Staffordshire, England, Johnson's dictionary was called "colossal" at almost 18 inches tall, and was the premier English dictionary till the Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1928, the first one being published in 1884. Johnson's dictionary was more than just a word list: his work provided a vast understanding of 18th century's language and culture. Its pages were almost 18 inches (46 cm) tall, and the book was 20 inches (51 cm) wide when opened; it contained 42,773 entries, to which only a few more were added in subsequent editions, and it sold for the extravagant price of £4 10s. However, the Google Doodle is ironical because the use of Google as a search engine has led to the decline of dictionaries.

Back in the early 90s when people had no idea about Google and wanted to look up for a meaning of the word, the only resort they relied on was what elders called as a dictionary.

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