What's On



Past Exhibitions


Dead Men’s Houses: portraying literary lives

Thursday 11 September at 7pm (doors open at 6.15pm)

An illustrated talk and tour by Morwenna Rae, the Donald Hyde Curator of Dr Johnson’s House

The birthplaces, childhood homes, townhouses, farms, mansions, estates and even reconstructed or imagined dwellings dozens of writers are open to the public. More people are visiting and literary guide books are booming. We enjoy visiting the homes of dead writers and seem to generally trust their account of the author’s life.

But once you have toured a few writer’s houses, you might notice some peculiarities. Some have few or no objects to illustrate the story. Others were only the author’s home for a couple of months. In others, the line between museum and fictional setting has become blurred. Some writers have become controversial subjects, others surrounded by myth; telling their story is riddled with complications.

So, how do literary houses construct a compelling and balanced biography? Based on a research trip to the USA, our Curator presents case studies of the homes of Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Walt Whitman and invites the audience to explore the building and investigate how Samuel Johnson is presented in 17 Gough Square.

The research trip was funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

Tickets £5, includes a glass of wine.

Buy online

Alternatively, you can pay by cheque

Agatha Christie, Anne Brontë, Anton Chekov, Beatrix Potter, Benjamin Franklin, Boris Pasternak, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Dante Alighieri, DH Lawrence, Dylan Thomas, Edgar Allan Poe,  Edith Wharton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Elizabeth Gaskell, Emile Zola Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Erasmus Darwin, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neill, F Scott Fitzgerald, Flannery O’Connor, Franz Kafka, Frederick Douglass, Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, George Bernard Shaw, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Helen Keller, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henrik Ibsen, Henry James, Herman Melville, Honoré de Balzac, Jack London, James Fenimore Cooper, James Joyce, Jane Austen, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Bunyan, John Greenleaf Whittier, John Keats, John Milton, John Ruskin, John Steinbeck, Jules Verne, Karen Blixen, Kurt Vonnegut, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Leo Tolstoy, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Mitchell, Mark Twain, Maurice Sendak, Mary Shelley, Miguel de Cervantes,  Nathaniel Hawthorne, Noah Webster, O. Henry, Oscar Wilde, Paul Revere, Pearl S. Buck, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Roald Dahl, Robert Burns, Robert Frost, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Samuel Johnson, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Carlyle, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Jefferson, Victor Hugo, Virginia Woolf, Voltaire, Walt Whitman, Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving, Willa Cather, William Cowper, William Faulkner, William Morris, William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, Winston Churchill, Zane Grey.

A selection of books by Samuel Johnson

Door knocker at 17 Gough Square

End of section


Saturday 20 September 2014, 11am - 6.30pm

Free entry to Dr Johnson's House all day as part of Open House London.

Last entry 6pm.

Large bags are not permitted in the House (including large handbags) and must be left at reception.

Open House key logo

End of section

Dr Johnson and Edmund Burke

Wednesday 15 October, 7.30pm (doors open 6.30pm)

A talk by Jesse Norman MP

This October, Jesse Norman MP introduces us to Edmund Burke, the Irish philosopher-statesman so admired by Johnson. He explores his life and thought, and explains why we cannot understand modern politics without him.

Jesse Norman is the author of Edmund Burke: The Visionary who Invented Modern Politics, which was longlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction.

Tickets £10, includes a glass of wine

Buy now

Alternatively, you can pay by cheque.

A literary party at Sir Joshua Reynolds, with Johnson, Garrick, Burke, Burney, Boswell, Goldsmith, Paoli and Wharton


end of section


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

1st Wednesday of each month, 3pm

Next walks:
September 3
October 1
November 5

Groups may also book walks at alternative times. For any enquiries please contact us.

Dr Johnson's Fleet Street - Discover Johnson's life and work in and around Fleet Street and his acquaintances in the area.
Dr Johnson's City - Explore the Fleet Valley, Ludgate Hill and St Paul's Churchyard areas as Johnson knew them.

£5/£4 concessions. No booking required. Meet outside Dr Johnson's House.

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

Payment 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.

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