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Oxford University Knowledge Fellowship Awarded

Updated: Mar 26

Prof. Lynda Mugglestone

Prof. Lynda Mugglestone and Dr Johnson’s House Awarded

Prestigious Oxford University Knowledge Exchange Fellowship.

This collaborative project, ‘Rethinking Johnson's House of Words’, redirects attention to the garret in which Samuel Johnson completed his English dictionary in 1755 as a writerly and collaborative space, and the birthplace of a book of international cultural significance.

A close collaboration between Celine Luppo McDaid, our Director and Curator, and governor Prof. Lynda Mugglestone will reunite physical space and lexicographical practice, drawing on Celine’s expertise in historic house interpretation and Lynda’s expertise in the history of the English language. This funding facilitates a public benefit from their shared interest in rethinking where, why and how Johnson’s dictionary was compiled.

Johnson’s ‘dictionary desk’, currently at Pembroke College, will be returned to the garret as part of this project. By summer 2024, the garret will be reinterpreted to indicate to the public the intricacies – and people – involved in the gargantuan task of compiling a dictionary.

The project includes the delivery of a regular blog, a programme of in-person and online public events and workshops, and outreach events to enhance established links with local schools. Preliminary research for the project is already revealing some exciting and unexpected directions. The history of the desk itself is fascinating, and involves Dickens, Ruskin, Carlyle, Tennyson, and Lord Palmerston, among others.

“As a distinguished scholar of language and Dr Johnson’s House Trust Governor, Prof. Mugglestone has a unique insight into this incredible space. We look forward to working together to tell the stories of how Dr Johnson and his amanuenses grappled with this monumental undertaking”. Celine Luppo McDaid, Hyde Director

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