Dr. Johnson's Doorknob
And Other Significant Parts of Great Men's Houses
Publication Date: September 11, 2007
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Behind every great man are his objects and daily possessions, defined as much by the minutiae of domesticity as by the great works of the man himself. Dr. Johnson’s Doorknob, inspired by Liz Workman’s National Heritage Revisited series published in England in 2002, is a situationist’s catalog of overlooked and highly amusing personal objects from the most famous households in history. From the mantelpieces in the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt to the crockery in Washington Irving’s Sunnyside home and the banisters in the William Morris Gallery, Workman peeked over the velvet ropes and turned an ironic eye on some of the most important historic homes in England and America. Each of the nine chapters in this charming, slipcased package is an anthology in itself, a collection of photographs that celebrate the unsung features of “great” men’s homes: there are door handles and banisters from the hallways of Charles Dickens and Jules Verne; the ashtray that held Freud’s cigarette butts; and chairs sat on by Thomas Carlyle, Charles Darwin, and Thomas Jefferson. From her photos of Washington’s four-poster to John Keats’s desk chair and Winston Churchill’s floral prints, Dr. Johnson’s Doorknob breathes new life into the inhabitants of these homes.
Liz Workman is an artist whose work combines a love of the domestic with a reverence for history. She has worked for various art organizations, including the Tate and Art Fund Quarterly. She is the author of several books, including National Heritage Revisited, The Dining Room, and most recently Kitchen Cupboards. She lives in London.