1st Edition

Samuel Johnson and the Powers of Friendship

Edited By A. D. Cousins, Daniel Derrin, Dani Napton Copyright 2023

    This book is the first to assess Johnson’s diverse insights into friendship—that is to say, his profound as well as widely ranging appreciation of it—over the course of his long literary career. It examines his engagements with ancient philosophies of friendship and with subsequent reformulations of or departures from that diverse inheritance. The volume explores and illuminates Johnson’s understanding of friendship in the private and public spheres—in particular, friendship’s therapeutic amelioration of personal experience and transformative impact upon civil life. Doing so, it considers both his portrayals of interaction with his friends and his more overtly fictional representations of friendship across the many genres in which he wrote. It presents at once an original re-assessment of Johnson’s writings and new interpretations of friendship as an element of civility in mid-eighteenth-century British culture.

    List of Contributors




    1 Introduction                                                                                                        A.D. Cousins and Daniel Derrin



    2 Johnson, Friendship and Politics.

    Nicholas Hudson


    3 ‘The Friend of Goodness’: Johnson and the ‘Life of Savage’.

    Julie Crane 


    4 Intimate Benevolence: Friendship in Johnson’s Periodical Essays.

    Paul Tankard 


    5 Johnson’s Friendships with Women.

    Norma Clarke


    6 Friendships in Prison: Imlac, Rasselas, the Hermit and the Astronomer.

                A. D. Cousins


    7 Friendship, Societas, and Analysis of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands.

                Daniel Derrin


    8 Critical Friendships in the Lives of the Poets.

    Philip Smallwood


    9 Seeking Minds in Unison: Johnson and his Friends in the Letters.

    Pat Rogers


    10 Recent Studies on Johnson and Friendship.

    Dani Napton




    Select Bibliography




    Emeritus Professor A.D. Cousins (Macquarie University) is Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and a Member of the Order of Australia. He has published more than twenty books in America and England, including monographs on Andrew Marvell, Thomas More, Shakespeare’s non-dramatic verse, mythologies of internal exile in Elizabethan non-dramatic verse, and on religious verse of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most recently, he has co-authored a volume on Alexander Pope with Daniel Derrin and another on Benjamin Disraeli with Dani Napton. He has published many articles and is on the Editorial Board of Moreana (Edinburgh University), the international journal of More studies, as well as of the Australian journal JLLC (Monash University). He has been Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Visiting Adjunct Professor at the Renaissance Studies Center at the University of Massachusetts, Visiting Scholar at Princeton and Penn State, and Library Fellow at the Library of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was also an Honorary Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities. He holds doctorates in both English Literature and Political Theory.

    Daniel Derrin is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. After finishing his PhD (2012), he was awarded the S. Ernest Sprott fellowship for 2014–15 from the University of Melbourne, which was completed at the Warburg Institute. From 2013–15, he was Associate Investigator for the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. This was followed by a Research Fellowship (2015–17) and a Teaching Fellowship at Durham University. He is the author of Rhetoric and the Familiar in Francis Bacon and John Donne (2013) and has co-edited with A.D. Cousins two volumes on Alexander Pope and, with Hannah Burrows, The Palgrave Handbook of Humour, History, and Methodology. Daniel is currently completing the monograph Humour and Renaissance Culture, 1500–1660 for Routledge.

    Dani Napton is Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Australia, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Macquarie University. She has most recently co-authored and co-edited a volume on Benjamin Disraeli with A.D. Cousins and authored a monograph on Sir Walter Scott. She has a strong publication record, including books, book chapters, and articles in international peer-reviewed journals, and is an invited reviewer for English Studies and The Wenshan Review of Literature and Culture. Her research interests include English non-dramatic literature and culture 1750–1900, with special attention to the history of ideas; rhetorical theory and practice, genre, landscape/place narrative, historiography, and representations of revolution and counter-revolution. She is also interested in politics and theologies of power, particularly, political and associated theological conservatism spanning the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, the history and politicization of religion, political theory, and politics and the novel c. 1600–1850. She holds one PhD in Literature (2010) and another in Political Theory (2018).