Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, leaves the easy life of the Happy Valley, accompanied by his sister Nekayah, her attendant Pekuah, and the much-travelled philosopher Imlac. Their journey takes them to Egypt, where they study the various conditions of men's lives, before returning home in a 'conclusion in which nothing is concluded'. Johnson's tale is not only a satire on optimism, but also an expression of truth about the human mind and its infinite capacity for hope.
Dr Saumuel Johnson was born on 18 September 1709. He was one of England's greatest literary figures: a poet, essayist, biographer, lexicographer and often considered the finest critic of English Literature. Best known for his Dictionary (1755), Johnson also wrote essays for The Rambler (1750-1752) and The Idler (1758-1760). He achieved a feat of English criticism in Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1781). He died on 13 December 1784.