"stealing and selling Samuel Johnson first editions"
Samuel Johnson
Public DomainSamuel Johnson - Credit: Sir Joshua Reynolds

Samuel Johnson was born in 1709, in Lichfield, Staffordshire. From a young age he displayed great intelligence, but his family was poor and his opportunities were limited.  He attended Pembroke College, Oxford, for a short while, but a lack of funds forced him to abandon his studies before getting his degree. He was however later awarded honorary doctorates from Trinity College, Dublin and Oxford.

He published his first major work, a poem entitled “London,” anonymously in 1738.  Perhaps his most impressive feat was the writing of an English dictionary, which took 9 years to complete and remained the most commonly used dictionary for 150 years after its publication in 1755.  Only someone of such literary genius would manage to have his last words in Latin: “Iam Moriturus” (I who am about to die).