Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age
In 1763, the painter Joshua Reynolds proposed to his friend Samuel Johnson that they invite a few friends to join them every Friday at the Turk’s Head Tavern in London to dine, drink, and talk until midnight. Eventually the group came to include among its members Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, David Garrick and James Boswell—it was known simply as “the Club.”
In this lecture Dr. Leo Damrosch brings alive this eccentric cast of the most notable writers, artists, and thinkers of the 18th century. With the friendship of the “odd couple” Samuel Johnson and James Boswell at the heart of his narrative, he conjures up the precarious, exciting, and often brutal world of late 18th century Britain. Dr. Damrosch also will talk about lesser known luminaries such as painter Frances Reynolds (younger sister of Sir Joshua), Sir Joshua Reynold’s secret confidante and confessor Hester Thrale, his black servant Francis Barber, his pornographic friend John Wilkes, and his “infidel” opponent David Hume. Dr. Damrosch will transport the audience back into a world of brilliant conversations and arguments among an extraordinary group of people whose ideas helped to shape their age, as well as our own.
Thank you to our co-sponsors: The Union League Legacy Foundation; English Speaking Union, Philadelphia Branch; Oxford & Cambridge Society of Philadelphia