One man. 42,773 entries. The brilliant story of how Dr Johnson succeded in writing the first great English Dictionary By 1700, France and Italy already had dictionaries of their own, and it became a matter of national pride that England should rival them. Dr Johnson rose to the challenge, turning over the garret of his London home to the creation of his Dictionary. He imagined it would take three years. Eight years later it was finally published, full of idiosyncrasies, but complete nevertheless. It would become the most important British cultural monument of the eighteenth century. This is the story of Johnson's attempt to define each and every word. In wonderfully engaging chapters, Hitchings describes Johnson's adventure - his ambition and vision, his moments of despair, the mistakes he made along the way and his ultimate triumph.