I’ve mentioned before, but not made much of, the Samuel Johnson Tercentenary this year. 2009 marks the three hundredth anniversary of Johnson’s birth, 18 September 1709. I’m going to be in Oxford, delivering a paper at the Johnson at 300 conference, on the day itself, which is probably the best possible way to celebrate it short of a time machine.

But this is much more interesting. When Johnson was a young man, looking to make a living for himself, he opened a private school with his wife’s small dowry. It failed, and he decided to move to London and seek employment as a writer. He left his home in Lichfield with his former pupil David Garrick, who went on to become the most celebrated actor of his time and, indeed, in the history of the English theater. The walk was 165 miles. Earlier this month, Peter Martin, who wrote a recent biography of Johnson, and Nicholas Cambridge dressed up in frock coats and breeches as Johnson and Garrick, respectively, and recreated the walk. You can see their route, including an interactive map, and read their blog at this site dedicated to the walk.

Stuff like this makes me wish I was living in England this year. Or, better yet, on sabbatical with unlimited access to money and a private jet, so I could fly about to all of the worldwide festivities. I’d need to be able to shuttle at will between Australasia, the Huntington, and England, with a few side trips, to take it all in.