Samuel Johnson was born in 1709, in Lichfield, England. The son of a bookseller, Johnson briefly attended Pembroke College, Oxford, taught school, worked for a printer, and opened a boarding academy with his wife's money before that failed. Moving to London in 1737, Johnson scratched out a living from writing. He regularly contributed articles and moral essays to journals, including the Gentleman's Magazine, the Adventurer, and the Idler, and became known for his poems and satires in imitation of Juvenal. Between 1750 and 1752, he produced the Rambler almost single-handedly. In 1755 Johnson published Dictionary of the English Language, which secured his place in contemporary literary circles. Johnson wrote Rasselas in a week in 1759, trying to earn money to visit his dying mother. He also wrote a widely-read edition of Shakespeare's plays, as well as Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland and Lives of the Poets. Johnson's writing was so thoughtful, powerful, and influential that he was considered a singular authority on all things literary. His stature attracted the attention of James Boswell, whose biography, Life of Johnson, provides much of what we know about its subject. Johnson died in 1784.
The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper: Including the Series Edited, with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical