Dr Johnson is often thought of as a strident, overbearing conversationalist, a man who famously asserted that 'Women have all the liberty they should wish to have'. But in this revealing book Kate Chisholm argues it is time to consider how Johnson lived his life, not just what he said. She proposes that the heart of the man, the truth of his character, can more clearly be seen via his many - close, generous, equal - relationships with women.
At one end of the spectrum were Johnson's mother Sarah; his 'painted poppet' wife Tetty; and the women, like the prostitute Poll Carmichael and the blind poetess Anna Williams, he took in when they had nowhere else to go. At the other end were Mary Wollstonecraft, who refers to Johnson in Vindication of the Rights of Woman; Hester Thrale, renowned wit and Johnson's 'dear mistress'; Elizabeth Carter, whose translation of Epictetus was an instant bestseller; and many more besides.
By looking again at this controversial figure through the eyes of this extraordinary cast of female characters, we can discover the essential and unexpected Johnson.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 445 g
Dimensions: 234 x 153 x 23 mm
"Re-positions an archetypal "great man" - Samuel Johnson - in a fresh light: as the focus of a network of female friends, bound by affection and rivalry" -- Boyd Tonkin * Independent, Books of the Year *
"Wonderfully entertaining...with complete grasp of the material, Kate Chisholm introduces us to eight women who were important in Johnson's life" -- Norma Clarke * Literary Review *
"Entertaining and enlightening" * Daily Telegraph *
"Fascinating... Kate Chisolm's affectionate, elegant book does the man and the women [in Johnson's life] a huge service" * Mail on Sunday *
"Excellent" * Dailiy Mail *