JOHNSON, Samuel (1709-1784). A Dictionary of the English Language. London: W. Strahan for J. and P. Knapton, T. and T. Longman, C. Hitch and L. Hawes, A. Millar and R. and J. Dodsley, 1755.
2 volumes, 2° (404 x 250mm). Titles in red and black, woodcut tail-pieces. (Volume I with title and three following leaves with margins very slightly tattered, volume II with paperfault hole to 15T1 with loss of a few characters.) Contemporary calf gilt, single fillet border to covers, spines in seven compartments with raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in the second, volume and number in gilt in the third, the others with gilt rules at head and foot (rebacked, original spines laid down, repairs to corners and extremities, covers scuffed). Provenance: John Prowll (signature in both volumes) -- Edward Withers, bookseller (fl.1737-1757, engraved trade label cut down and mounted on front pastedown of vol.I).
FIRST EDITION. Johnson's monumental work, which drew on all the best ideas and aspects of earlier dictionaries, was published on 15 April 1755 in a an edition of 2000 copies. The price was a high one of £4 10s, or £3 10s to the trade. The group of publishers whose names appear in the imprint were joint proprietors, having paid Johnson £1575 in installments for copy which took him eight years to complete, although in the final months publication was held back for the granting of his Oxford M.A. (20 February, 1755). Some of Johnson's advance was used to rent 17 Gough Square, where the garret became his 'dictionary work-shop.' He called on the assistance of six amanuenses, five of whom, Boswell proudly records, were Scotsmen. Chapman & Hazen p.137; Courtney & Smith p.54; Grolier English 50; Printing and the Mind of Man 201; Rothschild 1237.