The Birthday Celebrations, September 2011
To join in the fashionable pastime of deliberately misquoting Johnson, to gain dramatic or even comic effect, this really was “a good dinner, sure enough” – and definitely one that one would invite a man to.
This sentiment was shared by some 120 Johnsonians, gathered in the Guildhall on Saturday 17th September, to enjoy the one hundred and second Annual Supper of the Johnson Society, presided over by the Mayor, Councillor Brian Bacon, and attended by the Sheriff and the Chairman of the Lichfield District Council and their ladies. The menu choice remains very similar to that offered on the occasion of the inaugural supper in 1910, and always includes homemade steak and kidney pudding, apple pie and custard and a cheeseboard. These were, of course, Johnson’s favourites, so what better way to pay tribute to this great Englishman than to enjoy his own tastes – traditional English fayre in good company, with plenty of wit in the conversation.
The purpose of the occasion is to celebrate Johnson’s Birthday in fine style, and so speeches are required – we were entertained by splendid contributions from Thomas Proctor, Captain of School at King Edward VI School, from Frank Skinner, the retiring President, and who was on top form (which is really quite something!) and a very interesting speech by the incoming President, Susie Dent. She is known mainly for her role as principal dictionary consultant on TV’s Countdown, but is a lexicographer working on Internet based dictionaries for the OED. She spoke about changes to dictionary composition and the changing interpretation of words both in and since the time of Johnson. Her Presidential Address will be printed in the next edition of “Transactions”.
The Johnson Supper is one of Lichfield’s grand occasions. The Guildhall was a splendid sight, with candles on the top table, the presentation of Johnson’s favourite Bishop punch, a fine meal and excellent speeches. Very much the right way to celebrate the birthday of Lichfield’s greatest son.
In 2009, the Tercentenary of the birth of Samuel Johnson, in Lichfield, seemed an appropriate time to launch this re-designed web site (replacing 'the rambler' web site).
The Johnson Society based in Lichfield is the oldest in the world. It has over 600 members scattered UK-wide and worldwide. This is a special year for Johnsonians - we want to make it easy for all those who want to know more about the most quoted figure in the English Literary world of the 18th Century to use this site.
Comments and suggestions for improvement of the page will be welcomed.
PLEASE NOTE: The site is still under construction and the archive of material from past issues of our annual journal "Transactions" is not yet complete.
The aims of the Society are as follows:
The main objective of the Lichfield Johnson Society is to further interest in the life, works and times of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the famous author and lexicographer, often known as Doctor Johnson or even 'Dictionary Johnson', who was born in Lichfield in 1709. His Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755. He was one of the most influential figures in English letters from 1755 to his death in 1784.
- For more details of the Johnson Society see 'About Us' or click here.
- The activities of the Johnson Society focus around the Johnson Birthday Celebrations in mid-September. The society also organizes lectures, visits and other activities.
- Future Society activities and items of interest are listed in 'Events'. Either see 'Events' or click here.
- Past activities of the Society are all recorded in our journal " Transactions" which is published each January. To see copies of the papers from 2001 to 2006 go to 'Transactions' or click here.
- Copies of editions not on the Website can be obtained by emailing the Society - see 'Contact' or click here. We may make a charge to cover postage.
- Most members of the society live in the UK but we have members worldwide, in Australia, Japan and the far East, Sweden, France, Germany, USA and Canada. If you would like to join the Johnson Society see 'Membership' or click here.