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The Lives Of The Most Eminent English Poets; With Critical Observations On Their Works. By Samuel Johnson. In Four Volumes. Volume I. (-IV.)

Samuel Johnson

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed For C. Bathurst, J. Buckland, W. Strahan, J. Rivington And Sons, T. Davies, T. Payne, L. Davis, W. Owen, B. White, S. Crowder, T. Caslon, T. Longman, B. Law, C. Dilly, J. Dodsley, J. Wilkie, J. Robson, J. Johnson, T. Lowndes, G. Robinson, T. Cadell, J. Nichols, E. Newbery, T. Evans, P. Elmsly, J. Ridley, R. Baldwin, G. Nicol, Leigh And Sotheby, J. Bew, N. Conant, W. Nicoll, J. Murray, S. Hayes, W. Fox, And J. Bowen., M DCC LXXXI.

Physical Description

4 vols.; 213 mm. (Small quarto).

General Note

Vol. I: vii, [i], 480 p., frontis. (port.) - Vol. II: iii, [i], 471, [1] p. - Vol. III: iii, [i], 462 p. (p.186 misnumbered 168). - Vol. IV: iii, [i], 505, [1]p. In some copies (incl. that of the Royal Academy) the 1-page advertisement by J. Nichols is followed by a 16-page advertisement, 'Books Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell in the Strand'.


Vol. I: [Frontis., t.p.] - Advertisement - Contents Of The First Volume - [Text]. - Vol. II: [T.p.] - Contents Of The Second Volume - [Text]. - Vol. III: [T.p.] - Contents Of The Third Volume - [Text]. - Vol. IV: [T.p.] - Contents Of The Fourth Volume - [Text] - [Advertisement, 'Lately published, in Sixty-eight Volumes, An Elegant Edition of The English Poets ...'] - [Advertisement, 'Books Printed for W. Strahan, and T. Cadell in the Strand'].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece portrait of the author in Volume I is signed as engraved by T. Trotter after the painting by Sir Josh. Reynolds.


ESTC, T146734
J.D. Fleeman, A bibliography of the works of Samuel Johnson (2 v., 2000).

Summary Note

These critical biographies were originally printed as Prefaces biographical and critical to the Works of the English poets (London 1779-1781).

Volume I contains biographies of Cowley, Denham, Milton, Butler, Rochester, Roscommon, Otway, Waller, Pomfret, Dorset, Stepney, Philips and Walsh; Volume II, those of Dryden, Edmund Smith, Duke, King, Sprat, Halifax, parnell, Garth, Rowe, Addison, Hughes and Sheffield; Volume III, those of Prior, Congreve, Blackmore, Fenton, Gay, Granville, Yalden, Tickell, Hammond, Somervile, Savage, Swift and Broome; Volume IV, those of Pope, Pitt, Thomson, Watts, A. Philips, West, Collins, Dyer, Shenstone, Young, Mallet [incorrectly listed in the table of contents as Waller], Akenside, Gray and Lyttelton.


A copy of volumes 2-4 in the collection of the University of Michigan have been digitised and are made available via the Hathi Trust.

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4


Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Copy Note

This copy includes Strahan & Cadell's 16-page advertisement in Volume IV.

Binding Note

18th-century tree calf, rebacked in 2000 retaining earlier spine-pieces, red and black morocco labels, lettered, 'Johnson's Lives Eng. Poets' and 'I (-IV)'.


Poets - English poetry - Great Britain - History
Biography - Criticism - Reference books - Catalogs, Booksellers' - Great Britain - 18th century


Charles Bathurst, publisher
Thomas Trotter, engraver
Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA, source artist
Robert Baldwin, publisher
John Bew, publisher
Joseph Bowen, publisher
James Buckland, publisher
Thomas Cadell the elder, publisher
Thomas Caslon, publisher
Nathaniel Conant, publisher
Stanley Crowder, publisher
Thomas Davies, publisher
Lockyer John Davis, publisher
Charles Dilly, publisher
James Dodsley, publisher
Peter Elmsley, publisher
Thomas Evans, publisher
William Fox, publisher
Samuel Hayes, publisher
Joseph Johnson, publisher
Bedwell Law, publisher
Thomas Longman, publisher
Thomas Lowndes, publisher
John Murray, publisher
Elizabeth Newbery, publisher
John Nichols, publisher
George Nicol, publisher
William Nicoll, publisher
William Owen, publisher
Thomas Payne, publisher
John Ridley, publisher
George Robinson, publisher
James Robson, publisher
William Strahan, publisher
Benjamin White, publisher
John Wilkie, publisher
John Rivington, publisher
George Leigh, publisher
John Sotheby, publisher