The World’s Greatest Outlaw

The life of Samuel Johnson, would-be attorney-at-law

“The Third Otani Hiroemon as an Outlaw Standing Near a Willow Tree” by Katsukawa Shunsho, 1777, via the Metropolitan Museum of Art, purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1918

By Richard Cohen

oward the end of his life, Samuel Johnson drew up a list of subjects that he would like to research. He projected forty-nine works in all; none was on any aspect of the law. According to James Boswell, Johnson’s celebrated biographer, almost the only subjects sure to dis­tress Johnson…