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. The Wood Library is available for any visitors who wish to consult our libraries and stored collections by prior arrangement. Please contact us to find out more about the collections and make an appointment. The archive is open to all, we simply ask users to make an appointment and bring a form of photographic identification with them.
The Wood Library is situated on the second floor of the Museum and is accessible only by stairs. Off-site facilities with level access are available for researchers; please inform staff when making a booking if this service will be required.
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