The house was built in 1707 by Michael Johnson and served him as a bookshop and residence. On 18 September 1709 Samuel Johnson was born at the house and spent much of his early life in the house before leaving for London with David Garrick on 2 March 1737 at the age of 27. The house continued to be occupied by Johnson's mother Sarah after his departure. On 31 January 1739, Johnson and his mother mortgaged the family home to Lichfield town clerk Theophilus Levett, a longtime friend of the family, for £80. The debt was the subject of correspondence between Johnson and Levett, as well as Levett's son John, for some years. Ultimately, Johnson paid off the outstanding mortgage in full. After the death of Johnson's mother in 1759, Johnson asked his stepdaughter Lucy Porter and his parents' servant Catherine Chambers to keep the house and continue running the business. A year after his death in 1785 the house was sold for £235 at an auction in the Swan Inn. The buyer was bookseller Major Morgan who continued the use of the building as a bookshop. From 1817 to 1835 the house was the newspaper office of the Lichfield Mercury. It is thought it then lay empty for a number of years occasionally being used as a grocer, dentists and ironmongers before the premises were bought in 1887 by James Johnson of Stockport in order to preserve the house in which Dr Johnson was born.
The museum currently contains a varied mix of displays, reconstructed rooms and audio-visual media. Visitors are taken through the colourful life and major achievements of Lichfield's most famous son, from troubled childhood, through literary obscurity and financial poverty, to world renown and success. The collection includes prints, paintings, sculpture - including a carved figure of Johnson by Denis Parsons, furniture, manuscripts and books: including many early and rare editions of Johnson's work. The book collection has largely been obtained through two major donations, now housed in the libraries named after their donors: the Hay Hunter and Blum Libraries, and the Wood library contains a further 2,000 volumes. Personal items include Johnson's armchair, tea set, breakfast table and portable writing desk, David Garrick's walking stick and a bookcase belonging to James Boswell.
Assistance dogs are welcome. There are numerous exhibits for the visually impaired to touch. The Birthplace Museum is a Grade I listed building with many stairs. Chairs are provided throughout the building for visitors. A guide containing images and descriptions of the displays, a virtual tour and the introductory film are available to view in the ground floor reception (a small flight of 5 steps leads up to the entrance). No toilet or catering facilities are available in the museum. However, they are located in the heart of Lichfield with many cafes and restaurants nearby.
Location : The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Breadmarket Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 6LG
Transport: Lichfield City (National Rail) 10 minutes. Bus Routes : 15, 35, 60, 61, 62, 821, 822, 823, 824, 825 and X35 stop in near by.
Opening Times : Daily 10:30 to 16:30
Tickets : Free
Tel: 01543 264972