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JOHNSON, Samuel.

A Dictionary Of The English Language:

In Which The Words Are Deduced From Their Originals, And Illustrated In Their Different Significations By Examples From The Best Writers. To Which Are Prefixed, A History Of The Language, And An English Grammar.

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London, J. and P. Knapton, 1755

'The work of a single person and composed in a period of time very inconsiderable when compared with the extent of the work' (Adam Smith). 'I have... attempted a dictionary of the English language, which, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected, suffered to spread, under the direction of chance, into wild exuberance, resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion, and exposed to the ignorance, and caprices of innovations' (Preface).

In the 1740s 'a group of booksellers headed by Robert Dodsley perceived the need for a new English dictionary to replace the Dictionarium Britannicum of Nathan Bailey (1730). They found a receptive ear in Johnson, who had pondered for many years on the absence of an English equivalent to the great continental glossaries sponsored by public bodies and academies. What was envisaged was something quite different, a commercial venture financed

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First edition; 2 vols, folio (420 x 250 mm.); titles printed in red & black, light toning, occasional mild ripling to some leaves (not from damp), the odd mark but in the main, very good indeed; modern calf, gilt-lettered spines.


Courtney & Smith, p.54; Chapman & Hazen, p.137; Rothschild 1237; PMM 201.

Stock ID:103745

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