Tired of London? Then Read On...

Lord Harmsworth tells how an accident of birth resulted in his running Dr Johnson’s House in London.

I loathed history at school! The present and the future were so much more interesting than the past. And it was all about dates and events. Not about people. People are so much more interesting than things. There was an exception: constitutional history. My teacher made the subject come alive. And it had a modern relevance. I only read for information then. Never for pleasure. Still do.

In 1911 my grandfather Cecil Harmsworth was walking along Fleet Street with a journalist, when he learned that No. 17 Gough Square was up for sale. Samuel Johnson had rented the House between 1748 and 1759 while he was working on his great English Dictionary in order to be near his printer, William Strahan. It was the only London residence of the seventeen listed by Boswell as having been used by the Doctor that was still standing. Unfortunately Boswell was not to meet Johnson until a few years after he had left the Square. Without more detailed description of life there, we do not know what use some of the rooms were put to.

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