WRITER Dr Samuel Johnson, one of Lichfield’s most famous sons, will be celebrated with a family festival at the city’s Three Spires Shopping Centre.
Samuel and the Spires Festival, which runs from May 31 to June 3, will see interactive entertainment on offer at the shopping centre, alongside informative displays, writing workshops, dictionary treasure hunts, book swaps, crafts and games
The free event will celebrate the life and work of the Georgian author, born in the city in 1709 as the son of a bookseller. He rose to become one of the greatest literary figures of the eighteenth century, most famously compiling A Dictionary of the English Language.
During the four-day festival actors from the Lichfield Garrick Theatre will be present, while the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will provide costumes for visitors to try on.
Three Spires Shopping Centre administrator Julia Woodward said: “I’m really looking forward to this event, where we will celebrating this internationally renowned literary giant.
“We hope it will keep families entertained and informed during the half term school holiday, at the same time as spreading the word about one of Lichfield’s most famous sons.”
As well as being a famed lexicographer, Dr Johnson was a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer and editor, and was close friends with actor David Garrick, after whom the city’s theatre is named.
Lichfield Garrick Theatre artistic director Tim Ford said: “We are thrilled to be involved with, and supporting, the Samuel and the Spires Festival at Three Spires Shopping Centre.
“Samuel Johnson was a great ambassador for Lichfield and has helped shape this wonderful city. His influence is still felt today not just in Lichfield but across the world.
“The festival will be a great, free family fun event and it’s fantastic that the Three Spires have invited the Lichfield Garrick to take part in this.”
Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum will also be providing images, information and artefacts to inspire shoppers, at the festival – including Dr Johnson’s own giant teapot, as he reputedly could drink 25 cups at a sitting.
The museum on Breadmarket Street is based in the historic house that was Johnson’s birthplace and childhood home. The museum boasts 8,000 diverse and intriguing objects in its collection including books, paintings and costumes.
Lichfield City Council’s museums and heritage officer Jo Wilson said: “Samuel Johnson was incredibly important as he not only wrote the first Dictionary of the English Language but he captured the spirit of the time.
“It’s wonderful for us that he came from Lichfield and that the centre is focussing on him as a local lad so we’re hoping to help them capture the flavour of the Georgian times.
“It was actually a very exciting and colourful time when people were really getting excited about the world around them so our plan is to reflect that during the event as Samuel Johnson was a real man of that moment.
“The festival should be a fun, engaging and informative event to really show that side of him,” Jo added.
“Hopefully we can capture the imaginations of some of the shoppers and inspire them to want to know more about this amazing man.”