Dr Johnson's House

Entertainment & Arts

Europe, United Kingdom, City of London

Dr. Johnson's House in the City of London is a former home of the 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson. Built in 1700, it is a rare example of a house of its era which survives in the City of London (note that this refers only to the "Square Mile", as there are many other houses of this period elsewhere in Greater London). It is located at 17 Gough Square, a small pedestrianised court in a tangle of ancient alleyways just to the north of Fleet Street. Johnson lived and worked in the house from 1748 to 1759, and he compiled his famous A Dictionary of the English Language there. In the 19th century, it saw use as a hotel, a print shop and a storehouse. In 1911, it was purchased by a Member of Parliament named Cecil Harmsworth, who later commented, "At the time of my purchase of the house in April 1911, it presented every appearance of squalor and decay…It is doubtful whether in the whole of London there existed a more forlorn or dilapidated tenement." He restored the house and opened it to the public in 1912. It is now operated by a charitable trust. The house features paneled rooms, a pine staircase, and a collection of period furniture, prints and portraits. There are exhibitions about Johnson's life and work. The house figures prominently in the 1946 Sherlock Holmes film Dressed to Kill.