Anna Williams - Dr. Johnson's Blind Companion

Anna Williams

Born 1706
Died 1783

Biography: 

Poet. Daughter of a Welsh physician (d. 1755). She lost her sight ca. 1740 having sometime before met Dr. Johnson's wife, whose constant companion she became. Williams continued living in the same house as Johnson following the death of Mrs. Johnson in 1752, and when Johnson moved into new lodgings some years later, Williams moved into lodgings nearby, and, as Boswell reports, in 1763, "Mr. Johnson is never a night without seeing her. Let him be never so late in company, Miss Williams sits up till he comes and drinks tea with her."1 She became again a part of his household from 1766 until her death, "which came as a considerable shock to Johnson."2

It has been suggested by some scholars, that Johnson at one point intended to marry Anna Williams. But in the words of Adam Sisman "Miss Williams had come to London in the hope that an operation on the cataracts in her eyes might lead to a cure; in fact she became totally blind. If Johnson had planned to marry her, this tragedy would have been reason enough to call off the marriage."3

Life with Boswell: 

Boswell first mentioned her in his journal on July 28, 1763, but didn't meet her until a few days later, when on August 8 Johnson took him to drink tea with her at her lodgings in Bolt Court.