Age of Johnson 1750-1798

Also known as Age of Sensibility, commonly referred to as Age of Johnson because of the dominant author of this period, Samuel Johnson. On September 18, 1709, Samuel Johnson was born in Litchfield, Staffordshire, England. Spending most of his life in his fathers bookstore, he received part of his education.Johnson was mainly educated at the Litchfield Grammar School, where he learned Latin and Greek. In 1728 and 1729 Johnson spent fourteen months at Pembroke College, Oxford. Too poor and embarrassed by his poverty, Johnson could not complete the work for a degree. Johnson supported himself with teaching jobs after his father died in 1731. In 1735 he married Elizabeth Porter, a widow some twenty years older than him. Still trying to find a way to make a living, Johnson opened a boarding school.

Historical Context

  • In 1712, the Newspaper Stamp Act was put in place. The act was placed to create a new tax on publishers, particularly of newspapers.
  • In 1718 followed the Quadruple Alliance, in which Britain, France, Austria, and Holland aligned themselves against Spain.
  • In 1718 Lady Mary Wortley Montague introduced inoculation against smallpox.
  • In 1755 the english dictionary was written.
  • In 1765 a long promised addition of Shakespeare's work appeared in eight volumes. Source:

Values and Beliefs

Values and beliefs before the Age of Johnson were very religious, during this time period people started to drift towards "pre-romantics." It focused on the development in literature, rather than advancements in politics and science.

Genre and Style

The Age of Johnson is one of three periods the neoclassical era is broken down in to. Neoclassic literature was written between 1660 and 1798. Neoclassical literature is characterized by order, accuracy, and structure. Popular types of literature include parody, essays. satire, letters, fables, melodrama, and rhyming with couplets. Source:

Significant Authors

Thomas Gray
  • Oliver Goldsmith-Goldsmith is author of the essay collection The Citizen of the World (1762), the novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), the plays The Good Natur’d Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1773), and the poetry collections Traveller, or, a Prospect of Society (1764), An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog (1766), and The Deserted Village: A Poem (1770). Source:
  • James Thomson
  • Thomas Gray-Thomas Gray was an English poet, letter-writer, classical scholar and professor at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He is widely known for his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, published in 1751.
  • William Collins- Best known for poems are are the odes To Simplicity, and To Fear The Passions.
  • Robert Berns
The mind is never satisfied with the objects immediately before it, but is always breaking away from the present moment, and losing itself in schemes of future felicity... The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope. -Samuel Johnson



Created with images by dbking - "Albert Pike"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.