Samuel Johnson, lexicographer, essayist, poet and critic, was the leading English writer of the second half of the 18th century. The period is now called the Age of Johnson in recognition of his eminence.
His achievements are so diverse that they are not easily summarized. He wrote the first English dictionary based on historical principles; he produced the first editorially intelligent edition of Shakespeare's plays; his literary criticism, after suffering a long period of disesteem, is now correctly ranked with the finest in English; as a moralist he has always been admired.
Thanks to James Boswell's massive, brilliant Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), his personality and conversational powers have entertained thousands who have never read his writings. Yet it is as a writer that Johnson remains important: he has been called the greatest man of letters in English Literature.