On the Trail of Dr Johnson: Staffordshire and Derbyshire

The dictionary is a curious thing- A book full of words and their definitions which most people use only to look up the rude ones. If you’re British you’ll likely use the OED and if you’re from the US I believe that Websters is the preferred dictionary of choice. But we wouldn’t have either of those dictionaries if it weren’t one man: Dr Samuel Johnson. He wasn’t the first to write a dictionary, but it was he  who wrote the most influential dictionary and the first modern one at that. Undoubtedly, he’s one of the most well regarded word masters in history. However, he wasn’t just a dictionary writer. Like all other learned men of the eighteenth century Dr Johnson wrote other things. Most notably he wrote essays, diaries and travelogues. One such diary is his ‘Journey Into North Wales,’ a sometimes scant but entertaining romp across North Wales and the Midlands. Though it was never originally intended for publication and not as well known as his trip round Scotland with James Boswell,  I still thought it might be fun to try and track his route across the country, along the way seeking what remains, what’s changed and what he got completely wrong…

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