Bewigged, muscular and for his day unusually tall, adorned in soiled rumpled clothes, beset by involuntary tics, opinionated, powered in his conversation by a prodigous memory and intellect, Samuel Johnson is one of the greatest figures of English Literature, perhaps the most quoted English writer after Shakespeare.
This new biography, the frist substantial one for thirty years,illuminates the Johnson that James Boswell, Johnson's famous biographer, never knew: the awkward and suffering youth, the unsuccessful school master, the eccentric marriage, the early years in London in the 1740's scratching a living, the epic struggle to produce the Dictionary. He was in many ways very much the outsider. These aspects of Johnson radically modify the conventional picture of him as the supremely confident dispenser of robust commonsense.
The first substantial life of Johnson for over 30 years Published in good time for the 300th anniversary of his birth in 2009 Uses material unknown to previous biographers Author's biography of James Boswell was highly acclimed: "Martin's life is the best general biography to date" (John Gross, Mail on Sunday); "will surely establish itself as the best single-volume life" (Roy Porter)
'well-researched, fully annotated and judiciously expressed...Peter Martin's volume is a worthy addition to everyone's shelf of Johnsoniana' THE LITERARY REVIEW 'Martin tells the familiar story extremely well. It would be nice if his Samuel Johnson won the 2009 Samuel Johnson. I think it has a chance.' OBSERVER 'a solidly constructed literary biography that makes judicious use of sources sidelined by Boswell, as well as later academic findings.' GUARDIAN 'a readable introduction to the great man's life. He was a great critic, a great wit, a great writer; above all, as this book reminds us, he was a great Englishman.' DAILY TELEGRAPH 'Thorough, sympathetic, and balanced...the great flawed jewel here is really Johnson...lighting the way with wit, immense intellectual charisma, and pure courage.' INTELLIGENT LIFE 'It makes an absorbing study of great flaws in a great human being. As always with Johnson - how you wish you could have known him!' DAILY MAIL 'Peter Martin has written a very smart and well-researched book.' SPECTATOR
Peter Martin was born in Argentina of English parents and educated there and in America. He has taught English literature in both England and America and written extensively on 18th-century British and American literature and culture. He divides his time between southern Spain and West Sussex.