Samuel Johnson is best known for writing the first English dictionary, but Londoners know him better for the Georgian townhouse that still stands in Gough Square. He used to live round the back of Fleet Street, so he would have strolled up to St. Paul's and down the Strand towards Westminster whilst chatting with his biographer, James Boswell.
Now you can follow in their footsteps and explore the streets that he called home.
There are two different walks to try, and they alternate every month.
The first walk is called Dr Johnson's Fleet Street and focuses on the courts and alleys off Fleet Street. The tour will include Gough Square (where he lived), Temple Church, Temple Bar and Fleet Street itself.
The second walk is called Dr Johnson's City and explores a much wider area including the Fleet Valley, Ludgate Hill and St Paul's Churchyard.
Note: You can't go on one of these walks and not visit Dr. Johnson's House as well. It's still standing in a little secluded court of Fleet Street, with a cat statue out the front (Johnson famously had a cat called Hodges, which got a statue outside his house instead of Johnson himself!). We recommend that you visit the house first, because this tour doesn't go inside it. Then you'll be able to get a much better idea of his life and career.
Craig has written a review of Dr Johnson's House on his blog, and included a few photos and a video of what it's like inside. Feel free to ask him some questions before you go. You might fancy having a drink in his local pub as well: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (145 Fleet Street, sixty seconds from Dr Johnson's House). The great man was said to be a regular in this 17th-century wood-panelled pub, so now you've got a good excuse to raise a glass to him before you go (you can pretend you're doing research). Tradition states that his favourite seat was to the right of the fireplace, in the ground floor bar.
If you're interested in literary London then you might like to try the Charles Dickens walk as well, which explores the dark and dirty streets of Victorian London.
Craig’s review of Dr. Johnson’s House – “If you flick through a few London guidebooks then it won't be long before you find the phrase "If you're tired of London, you're tired of life". It's the go-to quote when you're writing about our city. Well, the guy who wrote that line used to live here -- at Dr. Johnson's House. Samuel Johnson was the famous writer and wit who wrote the first dictionary.… continued”
Somerset House Historical Highlights – Every Thu and Sat – This tour has tales about Tudor intrigues and the extravagant entertainments laid on during Georgian times
Old Palace Tour at Somerset House – Every Tue – The Old Palace Tour will introduce you to three Stuart queens who had an association with the old buildings at Somerset House
Walk in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper – Every day – Walk the streets of Whitechapel and try and discover the identity of the Victorian murderer Jack the Ripper - if you dare!
The Original Tour — Open-top sightseeing bus – Every day – The Original Tour is one of London's most popular sightseeing buses, and it's also a great way to travel around the capital.
London Bus Tour — open-top sightseeing bus – Every day – This traditional open-top bus tour will take in all the best landmarks and attractions, with a free river cruise and guided walk.
TRS river cruise, from Big Ben to Greenwich – Every day – Spend a leisurely afternoon on a TRS river cruise from Big Ben to Greenwich, and see some of the sights along the river.
Boat trip down the Thames, with City Cruises – Every day – City Cruises offer one-way, return or all-day boat trips between Westminster and Greenwich, stopping off at Tower Bridge.
You might like too try these other literary events in London
Look for more sightseeing tours next month
If you enjoy Dr. Johnson’s House then you might like to visit Benjamin Franklin House (walk it in 20 mins or catch the tube from Temple to Benjamin Franklin House), Charles Dickens Museum (walk it in 16 mins or catch the tube from Temple to Charles Dickens Museum) and Keats’ House (catch the train from Temple to Keats’ House)
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans