Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Johnson > Johnson and Boswell > His first writings and his Translation of A Voyage to Abyssinia
  Johnson’s early life: Lichfield, Oxford and Birmingham Foreshadowings of Johnson’s style  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

VIII. Johnson and Boswell.

§ 3. His first writings and his Translation of A Voyage to Abyssinia.


Of his five and a half years in the midlands after his residence in Oxford, the records are fragmentary. His earliest extant letter (30 October, 1731) has reference to an unsuccessful application for the post of usher in the grammar school of Stourbridge. He acted in this capacity for some time, in 1732, at Market Bosworth, in Leicestershire. Later in the same year, he paid a visit to his lifelong friend Edmund Hector, then settled as a surgeon in Birmingham; and it would appear that Birmingham was his home for the next three years. 5  What is certain is that his hopes had now turned to writing. He contributed to The Birmingham Journal a number of essays, all of which are lost; he planned his edition of Politian; he offered to write for The Gentleman’s Magazine; and he completed his first book, A Voyage to Abyssinia, by Father Jerome Lobo. With a Continuation of the History of Abyssinia, and Fifteen Dissertations, by Mr. Le Grand. From the French. The volume was printed in Birmingham and published in London, anonymously, in January, 1735.   5

Note 5. The issue of the Politian proposals at Lichfield in August, 1734, appears to be the only evidence for the common statement that he then returned to Lichfield. It was to be expected that the subscriptions should be received by his brother Nathanael, who, with his mother, had carried on the family business from the death of his father in 1731. A Voyage to Abyssinia was all written at Birmingham. If it was completed before August, 1734, there must have been a delay of six months in publication. The letter to The Gentleman’s Magazine was written from Birmingham on 25 November, 1734. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Johnson’s early life: Lichfield, Oxford and Birmingham Foreshadowings of Johnson’s style  
 
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