Samuel Johnson was both a great writer and a great character; according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography “..arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history“. With his dictionary doing so much to define the English language you would expect the 300th anniversary of his birth (last Friday) to have made a bit of an impact online. Unfortunately, despite some great programmes on both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, the public failed to be overly moved.
In fact according to Google Trends, whilst September has caused a slight blip, interest in “Samuel Johnson” has been falling over the years.
The blogosphere shows no more interest than usual, and far less than the announcing of the Samuel Johnson prize.
Obviously some historical figures stand the test of time better than others. The graph below shows the leap in interest for the mere 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth (the red line at the bottom provides a comparison with Samuel Johnson).
The two men have very different legacies, but nonetheless I can’t help feeling that Samuel Johnson has been unfairly overlooked online.