Johnson and His Books


Robert Burton. The Anatomy of Melancholy. Oxford: Henry Cripps, 1651. *2003J-SJ993a

Johnson told Boswell that The Anatomy of Melancholy "was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise." If so, then this was the copy that greeted him some of the many mornings he spent at Streatham Park, the country home of his friends Henry (1728-1781) and Hester Thrale (1741-1821). Johnson grappled with depression throughout his life, and found that reading the Anatomy provided solace from "distressing thoughts" in his darker moments.