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
Guided walk around Charles Dickens’ London – Every Fri – This guided walk will take you around some of the most memorable streets and locations that Charles Dickens used in his novels.
11 — London’s cheapest sightseeing bus – Every day – If you don't fancy spending money on an open-top sightseeing bus, then there's a cheaper alternative — the No 11 bus.
City Highlights: The Top 10 sights – Every Mon, Wed and Sun – A two-hour guided walk around the Square Mile, showing you some of the most famous historical sites and buildings in the City of London.
Mansion House: The Lord Mayor’s Residence – Every Tue – Look inside the Lord Mayor of London's official residence at Mansion House and see the interior courtyard and famous Egyptian Hall.
Guided tour of Wren’s best churches – Every Tue and Thu – This guided walk will look at the outside of St Pauls Cathedral and at a selection of Christopher Wren's finest City churches
Guided walk around Roman Londinium – Every Wed and Sat – Walk through the streets of Roman Londinium and see what remains of the old city walls, military fort and amphitheatre
You might like too try these other literary events in London
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 Charing Cross), Charles Dickens Museum (walk it in 16 mins or catch the tube from Temple to Russell Square) and Keats’ House (catch the train from Temple to Hampstead)