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Past Exhibitions

Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81)

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From 15th April 2019

To mark the 240th anniversary of Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1779-81), a collection of biographies for 52 writers, started to appear, we have brought together a special exhibition of prints, books, and related publications. These objects include ephemera in Johnson’s personal collections, plus a loan from the Twickenham Museum of Pope’s Essay on Man (1734).

The exhibit charts the progress of a young Johnson from an ‘imitator’ of the classical authors, to a poet in his early career, to a leading literary critic. Also on display are Johnson’s other poetic and critical works, as well as the first complete edition of his Lives of the Poets, which would become his last great literary accomplishment before his death five years later.

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Dr Samuel Johnson’s Greatcoat
Louise Whittles

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From 5 October 2018

For this project, London based artist Louise Whittles, wanted to explore how a particular constructed garment could lead to further thinking about the possible wearer. This may be through an invocation of something that happened to the garment or the wearer.

In preparation, Whittles began initial experimentation with wire netting and fabric to get the structure of the coat. References to the tailoring a greatcoat were taken from illustrations before starting to remake it with the view to encapsulate and embody Johnson. Both Johnson and Bowell had taken greatcoats with them on their tour of the Hebrides, and Johnson’s Dr. Johnson’s personality flows through this interpretation of his coat, particularly in the way it has been molded using wire netting, frozen in time as being blow by the strong Hebridian winds.

You can see more of the artist’s work here.


Frontispiece for Prefaces, biographical and critical, to the works of the Most Eminent English Poets.
Samuel Johnson, 1st edition, 1779

Samuel Johnson's Greatcoat

Dr Samuel Johnson’s Greatcoat
Louise Whittles
Wire netting and fabric with printed lining
Dimensions variable

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