What's On



Reading Circle

Past Exhibitions

Past Events at Dr Johnson's House


Charles Burney, Frances Burney and Reciprocal Silencing

A talk by Prof. Peter Sabor

Thursday 3rd March 2022  7pm (doors open at 6.30)

Join us to discover the tense relationship between father and daughter, and how each, in turn, silenced the other in an unusual case of reciprocal silencing.The initial silencer was the celebrated music historian and friend of Dr Johnson, Dr Charles Burney (1726-1814), father of the novelist, journal-writer and dramatist Frances Burney (1752-1840). After the extraordinary success of her first novel, Evelina, in 1778, her fame soon rivalled and then eclipsed his. To his credit, he encouraged her to continue writing fiction.

Writing for the theatre, however, was another matter; he dreaded the idea of his daughter’s becoming a public figure and succeeded in silencing her dramatic voice. After Dr Burney’s death, the tables were turned. With his vast archive in her possession, Frances could ensure that his correspondence would not be published. As for Dr Burney’s memoirs, Frances destroyed the manuscript almost in its entirety. But what impelled Dr Burney to silence his daughter? What were her reasons for suppressing the material in her care? Discovery why with Prof. Sabor.

Professor Sabor is Canada Research Chair and Professor of English at McGill University, where he is also Director of the Burney Centre. Recent publications include Samuel Richardson in Context, co-edited with Betty Schellenberg (CUP, 2017) and The Cambridge Companion to Emma (CUP, 2015). He is general editor of The Court Journals and Letters of Frances Burney (OUP, 6 vols, 2011-19) and Additional Journals and Letters of Frances Burney (OUP, 2 vols, 2015-18), as well as co-general editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Samuel Richardson (24 vols, in progress). He is general editor of The Letters of Dr. Charles Burney (OUP, 6 vols in progress). His website Reading with Austen is a digital recreation of the library used by Jane Austen at Godmersham Park: www.readingwithausten.com.


Book here to attend this talk.

The Garret at Dr Johnson's House

end of section


The Art of the Eighteenth-Century Obituary

Wednesday 8 April 2021   7pm (doors open at 6.30)

"We ne’er shall look upon his like again! Never on earth did one mortal body encompass such true greatness and such true goodness. The limits of our OBITUARY are too scanty to speak forth half his praise." So the publisher John Nichols lamented the death of his friend, Samuel Johnson, in The Gentleman’s Magazine for December 1784.

The obituary is one of the eighteenth century’s greatest inventions – a product of the age’s fascination with all forms of biography, and a rapidly expanding market for printed news. No one did more to popularise it than Nichols, who was mocked as a ‘death-hunter’ for his pains. Join Dr Rebecca Bullard to discover what eighteenth-century obituaries can tell us about the world in which Samuel Johnson lived and worked, and how they compare with printed memorials in our own time.



Satire on John Nichol

end of section

Whigs in Wigs: Fashions and Politics in the 18th Century

Saturday 30 May 2019 2pm

The 18th Century saw much political upheaval, as well as some of the most exaggerated and infamous fashion trends in Western History. We are well aware today of the links between politics and fashion; whether it be wearing slogan t-shirts, ties in party colours or buying garments made in Britain. The 1700s was no different – from fashionistas like Georgina The Duchess of Devonshire, to the outlawing of highland dress in 1746, this talk will examine how fashion was politicised during the 18th Century.

Katie Godman is a Costume Librarian for Islington Education Library Service. She studied MA Fashion Cultures: History and Culture at London College of Fashion and received the Yarwood Award from the Costume Society to fund her research into women’s fashion the early 1800s. She writes book reviews for The Journal of the Association of Dress Historians. Her own books are represented by the John Jarrold Agency and she is currently working on a proposal for a book on the history of Gothic fashion, as well as drafting a novel set during the Napoleonic Wars.

Free with standard admission charge

Kitty Fisher

end of section

Viral Satire in Dr Johnson’s London

Thursday 11 June 2019 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm)

Satire was everywhere in the age of Dr Johnson. Although the eighteenth century was by most historical standards a peaceful and prosperous one, its writers and artists were always at one another’s throats. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera, and Alexander Pope’s Dunciad took the literary world by storm. Everyone read them despite their darkness and oddity. Even at the end of the century a spirit of satire still animated the novels of Frances Burney, Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth. It was an age of irony, and only the Romantic-period cults of sincerity and sentiment could bring it to an end.

The story of satire in the eighteenth century has many parallels in the divided culture of twenty-first century Britain. Then as now satire happened virally, in bursts of angry energy. Cultural bubbles and silo mentality helped it to flare up, as they do today. Theirs, like ours, was an age of information technology and social awakening: satire still mocks such advances with gloomy glee. In this lecture Dr Paddy Bullard, editor of The Oxford Handbook of Eighteenth-Century Satire, asks what we can learn from the triumphs and failures of an older generation of satirists for our own fractious age.


Jame Gillray print

end of section


Follow in Johnson's footsteps and explore the courts and alleys off Fleet Street with an experienced City Guide.

Walks take place on the 1st Saturday and 3rd Friday of each month (except Jan) at 2pm.

Groups may also book walks at alternative times. For any enquiries please contact us on drjohnsonwalks@gmail.com

Explore the 18th - century literary London of the writer, critic and lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson. Walk down Fleet St, stroll through its alleys and byways and find out how Dr Johnson and his contemporaries made their careers in the burgeoning world of printing and publishing.

£10.00 Tickets are available via Eventbrite. Booking is not essential, however. Please bring cash for tickets not purchased in advance. We meet outside the house five minutes before the walk commences

18th Feb Book here

5th March Book here

18th March Book here

2nd April Book here

15th April Book here

7th May Book here

20th May Book here

4th June Book here

17th June Book here

This is a joint venture between Dr Johnson's House and the City Guides.

City of London Guides logo End of section

Johnson and Boswell 'Walking down the High Street' by Rowlandon

Events information

Most events sell out and tickets must be bought in advance. Card payments are processed by PayPal. We regret that we are unable to take card payments over the phone.

Customers wishing to pay by cheque should send a cheque payable to 'Dr Johnson's House Trust Ltd' to Dr Johnson's House, 17 Gough Square, London, EC4A 3DE. Please include your contact details. We will let you know when your cheque arrives.

Please note the House contains unavoidable steps. For more information about access, please visit our Facilities page.

LondonShh. Small Historic Houses Link to London Shh website Accredited Museum