Samuel Johnson was an English lexicographer who is cited by Professor Childermass as one who wrote a dictionary (The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost, 55).


Samuel Johnson (1709-84), often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English writer, literary critic, editor and lexicographer[1].

His A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language.  Johnson took nearly nine years to complete the work, although he had claimed he could finish it in three. Remarkably, he did so single-handedly, with only clerical assistance to copy out the illustrative quotations that he had marked in books. Johnson produced several revised editions during his life[2].

In a 1985 article that asked for his favorite quote, Bellairs offered one of Johnson's[3]:

"Depend upon it, sir. When a man's to be hanged in half an hour, he concentrates his mind wonderfully."
William Dodd (1729–1777) was an English Anglican clergyman who dabbled in forgery and, in an effort to clear his debts, was caught, convicted, and, despite a public campaign for a Royal pardon, was hanged for forgery.  Dodd's sermon The Convict's Address to his unhappy Brethren was largely written by Johnson to be used as Dodd's own.  When one of Johnson's friends doubted the authorship, Johnson, in order to protect Dodd, made this famous remark[4].  Bellairs has misquoted Johnson, however, who instead said the man would be "hanged in a fortnight".


  1. Wikipedia: Samuel Johnson
  2. Wikipedia: A Dictionary of the English Language
  3. "John Bellairs's Favorites."  Haverhill Gazette (Dec. 28, 1985).
  4. Wikipedia: William Dodd (priest)
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