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Patron oStephen Fry in the Library of Dr Johnson's House

Patron Stephen Fry in the Library of Dr Johnson's House
Image courtesy of Kevin Percival for Dr Johnson's House Trust

Dr Johnson’s House Announces Stephen Fry as New Patron

Today, Stephen Fry was announced as the new Patron of Dr Johnson’s House, London. Fry has long been an admirer of Samuel Johnson, the writer and wit, who lived and worked at the house in the middle of the 18th century, compiling his great Dictionary of the English Language (1755) there. Located near Fleet Street in the City of London, the House is open to the public as a museum.

The appointment of Fry comes at an exciting time for the museum, as Dr Johnson’s House Trust is applying for a Blue Plaque to commemorate the life of another resident of the house, Johnson’s servant Francis Barber. Once enslaved in Jamaica, Barber later became Samuel Johnson’s servant, friend and heir. He lived at 17 Gough Square 1752–1756 with Johnson while he wrote the Dictionary. This is understood to be the only property still standing in the City of London that can be identified as the home of a formerly enslaved person in the 18th century.

The plaque will mark an important part of Black History in Georgian London, and will give Dr Johnson’s House an exciting opportunity to explore Barber’s life and experiences, framed in the context of other black lives at the time.

Stephen Fry, Patron of Dr Johnson’s House, said:

‘I have long admired the work, life and achievements of Samuel Johnson: the single-handed production of a comprehensive – and often hilarious – dictionary stands, among many other notable works, as a high point in our literary history. I am delighted and very honoured to become Patron of Dr Johnson’s House.’

Celine Luppo McDaid, The Hyde Director of Dr Johnson’s House, said:

“To have Stephen Fry join us as our Patron is an immense honour, and it is thrilling that he has joined at a moment when we’re on the cusp of exciting and ambitious development plans.”

Michael Bundock, author of The Fortunes of Francis Barber and a Dr Johnson’s House Trustee, said:

“We plan to mark the fascinating life of Francis Barber with a plaque, celebrating a significant episode in British Black History. Dr Johnson’s House is fascinating; Barber’s story provides another good reason for visiting it.”

For more information on Dr Johnson’s House and Francis Barber, please contact:

Celine Luppo McDaid on drjohnsonshouse@gmail.com / 0207 353 3745

Images of Stephen Fry and Dr Johnson’s House for Press Use available here.

Further information about Dr Johnson’s House:

Website: www.drjohnsonshouse.org

Twitter: @drjohnsonshouse

Facebook: @drjohnsonshouse

Instagram: Dr Johnson's House

Dr Johnson's House is a charming 300-year-old townhouse, nestled amongst a maze of courts and alleys in the historic City of London. Samuel Johnson, the writer and wit, lived and worked here in the middle of the eighteenth century, compiling his great Dictionary of the English Language in the Garret. Today, the House is open to the public with a collection relating to Johnson, a research library, restored interiors and a wealth of original features. Often described by visitors as a hidden gem, 17 Gough Square is a tranquil spot in the midst of the bustling City.

More information about this can be found here

'A Word from our Patron Stephen Fry'

Johnson in conversation


Stephen discusses what Johnson means to him, and why he has joined Dr Johnson's House as its Patron

Aside from my admiration for, and curiosity about, the great Dr Johnson, I have on previous visits been struck by the pristine wonder of the house in Gough Square. It really is one of those places that transports the visitor to another age.

Johnson is a figure I hugely admire as an author and a conversationalist, but most of all as someone who revelled in language and understood its importance, vitality and beauty: he laboured for years over his great Dictionary. It still boggles the mind that one single person could create so compendious and remarkable an assembly of English words and write definitions for them that to this day strike us as so deliciously acute, and occasionally so charming and hilarious. If you look up the word 'lexicographer' you find this this cry from him his exhausted soul “Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge…”

Nobody in his age, and almost nobody since, wrote English with such force, elasticity, balance, intelligence, insight and wit. Even his laundry lists or notes to the milkman would be worth reading.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how much you know about Dr Johnson - you don’t even have to have heard of him to get so much from a visit to Dr Johnson's House. His spirit is there, and so is the spirit of Francis Barber, and even his favourite cat, Hodge.

Discover more about Stephen Fry and his interests here

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