CollectionThe collection has been built up since Cecil Harmsworth purchased the House and opened it to the public in the early 20th century. He was adamant that Dr Johnson’s House should not be filled with ‘irrelevant 18th century bric-a-brac’. Items in the collection had to be connected to Johnson and appropriate for the cheery home of an impoverished writer. Harmsworth turned down some donations, including Johnson’s death mask (too gloomy) and Chippendale furniture (too fine). The Harmsworths donated many early items and the Johnson Club transferred their entire collection to the House. Over the years many generous donations of relevant books, paintings and artefacts have entered the collection.
Stained Glass Portrait of JohnsonSparrow, nineteenth century
Johnson can be seen here with Lichfield Cathedral in the background. The book above him is inscribed The Vanity of
Human Wishes, which was one of Johnson’s major poems, first published in 1749.