Episode: Sep. 18, 2008: The Writer's Almanac
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Thursday's Poem: "Zimmer in Grade School” by Paul Zimmer from Crossing to Sunlight Revisited: New and Selected Poems. Thursday's Literary Notes: It's the birthday of Samuel Johnson, born in Lichfield, England, in 1709, who wrote A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). As a young man, he went to Oxford, where he had to walk barefoot because he couldn't afford to repair his shoes. One night another student left a new pair of shoes outside his door. Johnson was so furious that other students thought he was a charity case, and so discouraged by being poor, that he left school. He started writing, and he wrote for years while he battled depression and physical problems. He made friends with a man named James Boswell, who eventually wrote a detailed biography of Samuel Johnson, which is why we know so much about him. The biography is so precise about Johnson's specific tics, outbursts, and obsessive behaviors that it was used to posthumously diagnose Johnson with Tourette syndrome...