Famous People's Cause of Death Dr. Samuel Johnson

About the famous English genius Dr. Samuel Johnson, biography, history and cause of death.



Born: Sept. 18, 1709

Died: Dec. 13, 1784

Cause of Death: Mild attack of pneumonia

Physician's Notes: This great wit made legend by Boswell--and the author of A Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755--was afflicted with scrofula as a child, which left him scarred, partially blind, and partially deaf. He suffered dropsy and was semi-invalided in 1781. In his last years he remained a glutton, eating until "the veins of his forehead stood out and a strong perspiration was visible." He was an obsessive tea drinker also, and frequently drank 16 cups in one sitting. He understandably endured stomach pains, flatulence, catarrh, gout, asthma, and high blood pressure. In 1782 he experienced breathlessness and chest pains. On June 16, 1783, when he was 73, he awoke one night to discover he could not speak--aphasia--and could not write ("my hand made wrong letters")--agraphia. He felt "a confusion and indistinctness" in his head for about 30 seconds; then he prayed. He felt no pain. Next, he got out of bed, put himself "in violent motion," and drank two glasses of wine to restore his voice--which it failed to do. He went back to bed and slept. He had suffered a stroke, but rallied to do some belated traveling. Knowing the end was near, he destroyed all his personal papers. He caught pneumonia at 75 and died "with calm resignation." On his deathbed, he bled his own legs with a pair of scissors, which he plunged deep into each calf. This self-inflicted remedy hastened his demise. His last reported words were "I am about to die." He was buried at the foot of Shakespeare's monument in Westminster Abbey in a grave covered, at his request, with black marble to protect his body from injury.

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