Samuel Johnson is equally important as a writer and a great personality. He is in many ways the founder of modern biography, attempting to give a comprehensive picture of a person's life, character and achievements in an honest, objective fashion.
His "Rambler" and "Idler" essays reflect a deep interest in life, especially the way in which men and women should behave towards each other. As a critic and a scholar, his work on Shakespeare and other writers has contributed to our understanding of their works and their lives.
Johnson's political journalism reflects his belief that moral values cannot be disassociated from political actions. His travel book on Scotland, "A Journey to the Western Isles" is a compassionate and informative account of the country after the Jacobite rebellions and their aftermath. His poetry covers a wide range of moods, from philosophical reflections to light hearted banter and parody.
His most famous book, "A Dictionary of the English Language" gives a profound insight into the language of his day and was the basis for later English dictionaries.
To many people, Johnson's personality is based on the biographies and memoirs of close friends like Boswell and Hester Thrale. Through their work we feel we know Johnson as well as we know our friends, with all their oddities, their irritating features, their charms.
Johnson is the most human of English writers, overcoming mental and physical problems , and containing within him contradictory features. Through his wisdom, his courage, his humour, he has become a secular saint for the millions of people throughout the English-speaking world who read his work and that of his biographers.