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Peter Lilley's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Peter Lilley recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Peter Lilley's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Politics of Samuel Johnson

First published in 1960, The Politics of Samuel Johnson remains one of the most significant studies of Johnson ever written. Contrary to virtually all preceding studies of Johnson's life, politics, and art, Donald Greene declared that the popular image of Johnson--one that even pervaded academic circles--was a caricature, an amalgam of misconceptions, inaccuracies, and sometimes deliberate untruths drawn from the works of his well-intentioned friend Boswell and his detractor Macaulay.In the Introduction to the second edition, Greene reasserts--in light of three decades of Johnsonian... more
Recommended by Peter Lilley, and 1 others.

Peter LilleyGreene debunks the whole caricature of Johnson, which has been the predominant view since Thomas Babington Macaulay’s great diatribe of 1818 depicting him as a Tory reactionary doing all the things Tories are supposed to do. (Source)

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Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage

Dr. Johnson & Mr. Savage recounts a story of a mysterious eighteenth-century friendship between Richard Savage - poet, playwright, and convicted murderer - and the young Samuel Johnson, an unknown provincial schoolmaster just arrived in London to seek his literary fortune. In a book that the Times Literary Supplement has called "a chiaroscuro masterpiece, as gothic as a ghost story, as heroic as a myth," Richard Holmes brilliantly reconstructs the puzzling emotional intimacy between the naive Johnson and the seductive, contradictory Savage whose days (when he was not in prison) were spent... more
Recommended by Peter Lilley, and 1 others.

Peter LilleyWhen Johnson was still young and poor in London he got to know Richard Savage who was also poor. Savage claimed to be the illegitimate son of a countess. He was wanted for murder, he was dissolute and dissipated and part of the Jacobite “out group”, sympathisers with the House of Stuart. Johnson and Savage wandered the streets, slept out in the open and set the world to rights, as one does at... (Source)

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Samuel Johnson

W. Jackson Bate's Samuel Johnson has been hailed as a supreme example of the biographer's art and the first great modern life of Johnson. Bate's work is literary biography at its finest, delving into the character that formed Johnson's awesome intellect and fueled his prodigious output. When first published, this magisterial biography won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. less
Recommended by Peter Lilley, and 1 others.

Peter LilleyThe definitive modern biography of Johnson. (Source)

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Samuel Johnson

Recommended by Peter Lilley, and 1 others.

Peter LilleySamuel Johnson was an angry young man and a Tory, a Conservative with a capital C. (Source)

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The Life of Samuel Johnson

In Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, one of the towering figures of English literature is revealed with unparalleled immediacy and originality, in a biography to which we owe much of our knowledge of the man himself. Through a series of richly detailed anecdotes, Johnson emerges as a sociable figure, vigorously engaging and fencing with great contemporaries such as Garrick, Goldsmith, Burney and Burke, and of course with Boswell himself. Yet anxieties and obsessions also darkened Johnson's private hours, and Boswell's attentiveness to every facet of Johnson's character makes this... more
Recommended by Gretchen Rubin, Peter Lilley, and 2 others.

Gretchen RubinSamuel Johnson has such insight into human nature. His devoted fan and friend James Boswell wrote The Life of Samuel Johnson. It’s charming to read. He had so much to say about self-knowledge and what it means to be happy. In the book, he quotes a Spanish proverb that was well known in his time: “He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.” I... (Source)

Peter LilleyThis is the groupies’ biography in that Boswell was a cloying groupie but, nonetheless, he wrote the greatest Johnson biography of all time and the best known. (Source)

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