Henry Hitchings was born in 1974. He has written mainly about language and history, starting in 2005 with Dr Johnson's Dictionary. The Secret Life of Words (2008) won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award, as well as seeing him shortlisted for the title of Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. 2011's The Language Wars completed what was in effect a trilogy of books about language. He is a prolific critic and has made several programmes for radio and television on subjects including Erasmus Darwin, the eighteenth-century English novel and the history of manners. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Hitchings is extremely good at unravelling Johnson's most bullish assertions . . . lucid and empathetic, scholarly but lively. A model Johnsonian, in fact. * The Times * Enjoyable ... Hitchings is at his best when un-entwisting some of Johnson's most quoted and misquoted sayings. * The Times * 'A sprightly companion and guide, full of enjoyable surprises and learned digressions even for those who think they know all there is to know about the great man.' -- Christopher Hart * TLS * Witty, engaging ... Hitchings proves an amiably convincing advocate for his hero's enduring significance. -- Nick Rennison * Sunday Times * Hitchings himself could be said to provide positive proof of Dr Johnson's benign influence on the world. As this delightful book goes on, his own aphorisms grow more like Dr Johnson's, as though infected with that robust sympathy and intelligence. Looking through my notes for this review, I sometimes found it hard to recall which phrase was coined by H Hitchings, and which by S Johnson. -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday *