1 October 2022 Susannah

The Johnson Society of Australia

The Johnson Society of Australia

In late August I travelled to Melbourne to present the annual David Fleeman Lecture to the Johnson Society of Australia.

Fleeman was a renowned Johnsonian and so this lecture is given in his name. My topic was ‘A clean shirt for the ladies’: Dr Johnson and the Women of Scotland. If you are interested, you can watch a recorded version of it here.

The Johnson Society of Australia is a fabulous literary society which celebrates the life and works not only of Dr Samuel Johnson, but also of his circle of friends which included Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Hester Thrale, Fanny Burney and many more famous 18th century personalities. The society offers a really interesting programme of events, and I’m sad that distance means I can’t get to all their meetings. It was founded in 1993 and membership is $50 per year. You can find details about joining on: https://johnsonsociety.com.au/about-us/

I love the society’s logo, which depicts Johnson imitating a kangaroo. He heard about the creature from Joseph Banks (later Sir Joseph Banks) and Johnson astonished the group then present by rising from his seat and attempting to imitate this strange creature. The logo was drawn by cartoonist and print-maker John Spooner.

In my view, literary societies are hugely important. They encourage scholarship, discussion, the shared pleasure of good books, and they provide a wonderful opportunity for like-minded people to come together. In these post-pandemic days, as people emerge into the real world again, such societies are more important than ever.

Are you a member of any literary societies? What is your opinion on their place in the world? I’d love to know in a comment.

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Featured image- The Johnson Society of Australia. Portrait of Samuel Johnson c.1770, Public domain, National Library of Wales, http://hdl.handle.net/10107/4673326
Body image- Johnson Society of Australia logo, https://johnsonsociety.com.au/

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