‘A Goose-Quill or a Gander's?’: Female Writers in Johnson's <i>Dictionary</i>

Charlotte Brewer

in Samuel Johnson

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654345
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745003 | DOI:
‘A Goose-Quill or a Gander's?’: Female Writers in Johnson's Dictionary

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This chapter explores Johnson's quotations from female-authored sources in his Dictionary in the context of his attitude towards and relationship with women writers, and the view of women and women's language that may be found in the Dictionary as a whole (as derived from quotations from male, often misogynist, writers). It identifies fewer than 30 quotations from female writers (19 from Charlotte Lennox), out of a total of around 140,000 altogether, and discusses this disparity in relation to the increase in women's published writing from the late seventeenth century onwards. It asks whether and how Johnson's Dictionary might have been different, if it had included more female-authored quotations, and briefly compares its treatment of such sources with that of the OED.

Keywords: Samuel Johnson; historical lexicography; quotations; women's language; Charlotte Lennox; the female quixote; Shakespear illustrated; Lord Chesterfield

Chapter.  7887 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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