Samuel Johnson's massive two-volume, 2,300 page dictionary was first published on 15 April 1755, nine years after he began writing it. It marked a milestone in the English language: it was the first English dictionary to focus on everyday words, rather than the obscure ones that lexicographers had concocted, and was the first dictionary to enlist the works of Shakespeare and other great writers to illustrate a word's usage. It would be England's definitive dictionary for over 150 years.
Jack Lynch is a professor of English at Rutgers University and a Johnson scholar. He is the author of The Age of Elizabeth in the Age of Johnson and the editor of A Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986-1998.He also serves as joint editor of The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual.