From The Telegraph:
The playwright Arthur Murphy first came across Samuel Johnson in his lodgings “all covered with soot like a chimney-sweeper, in a little room, with an intolerable heat and strange smell”. And this was after the success of his labour of a decade, the great Dictionary. We perhaps assume that Johnson’s poverty was confined to the days after he came down from Lichfield with twopence-halfpenny in his pocket and walked about all night in the company of Richard Savage, with no roof to go to, setting the world to rights.
But in 1761, when he was already 52, Johnson’s annual income amounted to about £84, of which he paid 16 guineas for some dirty rooms. As far as that went, he might have got a poor deal, for James Boswell paid only £22 for his rooms in Downing Street. The rest of Johnson’s income could not clothe him decently or prevent repeated arrests for debt, when he would send urgently to a publisher to lend him money, then doggedly sit down to write periodical essays or prepare an edition of Shakespeare to pay the debt.