Johnson Birthplace helps to tell the story of the World

Published: 18 January 2010

The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in Lichfield is one of ten Staffordshire Museums to have been chosen to join an exciting new national project which launches this week. ?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. 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. It gives us a fascinating insight into the language and literature used in the Georgian period. Johnson's Dictionary became the standard authority on the English Language with a worldwide influence: it was shipped to America, Australia and New Zealand, and was translated into French and German.

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 ? 3.30pm (10.30am ? 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 or pop into the Museum on Breadmarket Street.