In this outstanding, eminently readable work of literary scholarship, Holmes explores the enigmatic friendship between Samuel Johnson and the poet Richard Savage, whom Johnson memorialized in Lives of the Poets. Synthesizing a wide array of contradictory historical sources, from Johnson’s Life of Savage to Boswell’s Life of Johnson, the correspondence of Johnson’s contemporaries and modern scholarship, Holmes shows that Savage was a notorious and alluring figure when Johnson first arrived in London in 1737. . . .
“Holmes enlivens his study with keen insights into the art of biography and evocative glimpses into the professional literary industry of 18th-century London: its oppositional politics, literary journals and Grub Street coffee houses bustling with impoverished writers.”—Publishers Weekly
“In the course of explaining how and why Johnson told his story as he did, Holmes provides a fairly full biography of Savage, the first book-length study since Clarence Tracy’s The Artificial Bastard (1953). Holmes’ book . . . is at once learned and a pleasure to read.”—Library Journal
Richard Holmes is the author of The Age of Wonder, which was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and the National Books Critics Circle Award, and was one of the New York Times Book Review’s… More about Richard Holmes