As much as I think I know, there is still so much more to drill into and explore - it's not a chore, it's a joy to keep learning.
The following item arrived in my inbox on Saturday morning from Alan Kohler, editor of the Eureka Report. Alan and his team do a great job of untangling the world of finance and giving you just what you need to be informed about the world of investment. Much better value for time and money than reading newspapers (on paper or online). And no I'm not on a commission - just a satisified reader.
Alan Kohler writes:
Yesterday was the 300th anniversary of Dr Samuel Johnson’s birth – September 18th, 1709. He is a hero and role model for me: a journalist who overcome tremendous disabilities – depression, Tourette’s syndrome, gout and scrofula (a form of tuberculosis) – to become a great writer and speaker and the sole author of the greatest English dictionary ever written. Not that I have suffered any of those problems, or written a dictionary for that matter.Sam Johnson was deeply religious and although he had a sharp, very witty, tongue he was always generous and courteous. Before he got a nice pension from the King after he finished his dictionary in 1755, he was always virtually penniless, living from the scraps he earned as a freelance journalist – mainly for a magazine called The Gentleman’s Pleasure. His assignments were quite incredible in their range and variety, and he produced an enormous amount of copy – all written longhand, of course, with a quill pen.
I often think about what Dr Johnson must have gone through, living in dark apartments off The Strand with a wife 20 years older than him who became a drunkard and opium addict, as he struggled with debilitating Tourette’s and depression. But he was always full of ideas and penetrating conversation and never let life get him down.
He wrote many letters, as well as thousands of words a day for magazines and books, as well as a lot of poetry, not to mention the nine years writing the Dictionary. He had constant visitors during the day, and spent most evenings in the pub – drinking gallons of tea (not alcohol) – arguing with anyone who wandered by.
A wonderful man, and a benchmark for all writers.
I knew of Dr Johnson [wikipedia] and his work on the dictionary but had never explored his life or works.
Thanks Alan. You've inspired me to order a copy of his novella Rasselas contained in this volume - Samuel Johnson: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics) - which yet again was easier and cheaper to get from the other side of the world via Amazon than to find locally. (An eBook from Waterstones in the UK would have been cheaper - but I'm not yet converted to the ways of eBooks - unlike my better half who is gives her Sony Reader an ongoing workout.)