The Life of Francis Barber at Dr Johnson’s House

Dr Johnson’s house will present ‘From Plantation to Salvation: The Life of Francis Barber’ on 13 February.

From Dr Johnson’s House: Francis Barber, a former slave from Jamaica, will forever be known as ‘Johnson’s manservant’. He was employed running minor errands in Johnson’s household, often navigating a path around the dominant Anna Williams. But just as Johnson shouldn’t be remembered merely for his Dictionary work, Barber should be commemorated for playing a much larger role in the writer’s life. Graeme Clarke will argue that evidence suggests Barber came to represent the nearest Johnson had to a child of his own. Not only did he educate Barber at great expense, he also regularly cherished and admonished him in a fatherly way, eventually bequeathing Barber his entire estate. However Francis’ ‘rags to riches’ story does not end there, and his fortunes following his protector’s death reveal much about a Georgian society in which a freed slave, even with such connections, still faced considerable struggles. Graeme Clarke is Museums Heritage Officer for Lichfield City Council, managing the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum. ‘From Plantation to Salvation’ brings together much of what is known about Francis Barber from various contemporary texts and accompanied a recent exhibition about Barber at the Birthplace Museum.

Seats are limited so you are advised to book early.
Doors open at 6.15pm, the lecture starts at 7.00pm and a glass of wine is included in the ticket price.

Find out how to book a place here: