It was released anonymously inand detailed the life of Richard Savagea London poet and friend of Johnson who had died in Savage had led a controversial life, and Johnson used the material to try to answer some wider ethical questions. The biography was well received and was the source of early praise for Johnson.
This praise has continued years after its original publication, and it has been described as "one of the best short biographies in English". The Life of Savage was not Johnson's first biography. Immediately after Savage died, various periodicals were printing biographical material on the dead poet. Johnson finished the work just before the Christmas of and was paid fifteen guineas. Although the work is a biography, it was a partial version of Savage's life as told by a friend and contained many minor errors.
Joshua ReynoldsJohnson's friend, told James Boswell that "It seized his attention so strongly that, not being able to lay down the book till he had finished it, when he attempted to move, he found his arm totally benumbed. Walter Jackson Bate writes that the Life of Life - Various - Jamaïcan Savage "remains one of the innovative works in the history of biography".
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