The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum opened to the public in 1901 and holds a collection of over 8,000 items relating to Johnson, his circle and 18th century Lichfield.

The collection includes prints and paintings, furniture, manuscripts and books: including many early and rare editions of Johnson's work. Many significant books were obtained through two major donations, now housed in the libraries named after their donors: the Hay Hunter and Blum Libraries. The Wood library, named after the first chairman of the Birthplace Committee, holds over 2000 volumes and serves as the Museum's study space. Personal items include Johnson's armchair, tea set, breakfast table and portable writing desk, David Garrick's walking stick and a bookcase belonging to James Boswell.

The Museum holds a significant manuscript collection including signature letters from Johnson and his family and other important figures such as Boswell, Anna Seward, Hester Piozzi, Joshua Reynolds and Sarah Siddons.

Accessing the collection

Many items from the collection are on permanent display. Visit our Using the Library page to find out more about visiting for research in our stored collection.

Developing our Collection

We occasionally add to the collection and are always interested in finding out about items relating to Johnson or the history of our building and 18th century Lichfield. Please contact us if you would like to discuss an item, or for more information on how we develop our collections you can read our full policy here.


Quotation mark

Knowledge is of two kinds.Quotation mark We know a subject ourselves,
or we know where we can find information upon it.

Samuel Johnson signature