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Jonathan Swift

In 1720 Jonathan Swift began his most famous work, Gulliver’s Travels, which was published in 1726 and remains to this day a classic of English Literature.

Jonathan Swift was born on November 30, 1667 in Dublin, Ireland, the son of
Protestant Anglo-Irish parents. Swift’s ancestors had been Royalists, and
all his life he would be a High-Churchman. His father, also Jonathan, died a
few months before he was born and young Jonathan grew up fatherless. Almost
immediately,  his mother Abigail, returned to England, leaving her son
behind in the care of an uncle.  In 1673, at the age of six, Swift began his
education at Kilkenny Grammar School, which was, at the time, the best in
Ireland. Between 1682 and 1686 he attended, and graduated from, Trinity
College in Dublin.
In 1688 William of Orange invaded England, initiating the Glorious
Revolution and with Dublin in political turmoil, Trinity College was closed.
The ambitious Swift took the opportunity to go to England, where he hoped to
gain promotion in the Anglican Church. In England, in 1689, he became
secretary to Sir William Temple, a diplomat and man of letters, at Moor Park
in Surrey. There Swift read extensively in his patron's library, and met
Esther Johnson, just eight years old at the time, and who was to become his
"Stella." It was there, too, that he began to suffer from Meniere's Disease
and in 1690, at the advice of his doctors, returned to Ireland, but the
following year he was back with Temple in England. He visited Oxford in
1691and in 1692, with Temple's assistance, he received an M. A. degree from
that University. In 1694, he returned to Ireland to take holy orders and in
1695 was ordained as a priest in the Church of Ireland, the Irish branch of
the Anglican Church, and the following year he returned to Temple and Moor
Park.
It was between 1696 and 1699 that Swift is thought to have composed most of
his first great work, A Tale of a Tub, a prose satire on the religious
extremes represented by Roman Catholicism and Calvinism. In 1697 he wrote
The Battle of the Books, a satire defending Temple's conservative position
in the contemporary literary controversy as to whether the works of the
"Ancients" — the great authors of classical antiquity — were to be preferred
to those of the "Moderns." In 1699 however, Temple died, and Swift traveled
to Ireland as chaplain and secretary to the Earl of Berkeley.
In 1700 Jonathan Swift was inducted as Vicar of Laracor, provided, that is,
with what was known as a "Living" — and given a stipend in St. Patrick's
Cathedral, Dublin. These appointments were a bitter disappointment for a man
who had longed to remain in England. In 1701 Swift was awarded a D. D. from
Dublin University, and published his first political pamphlet, supporting
the Whigs against the Tories.
In 1707 Swift was sent to London as emissary of Irish clergy seeking
remission of tax on Irish clerical incomes. Although his requests were
rejected, it was here that he met Esther Vanhomrigh, who would become his
"Vanessa." In 1708 Swift met Addison and Steele, and published his
Bickerstaff Papers, satirical attacks upon an astrologer, John Partridge,
and a series of ironical pamphlets on church questions, including An
Argument Against Abolishing Christianity.
In 1710, Swift had a falling out with the Whigs and joined the Tory party
where he became the editor of the Tory newspaper The Examiner. Between 1710
and 1713 he also wrote the famous series of letters to Esther Johnson which
would eventually be published as The Journal to Stella. In 1713 Swift was
installed as Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin — a promotion which
was, again, a disappointment. In 1714, Queen Anne died, and George I took
the throne. With his accession the Tories fell from power, and Swift's hopes
for an appointment to a position in England came to an end: he returned to
Ireland "to die," as he says, "like a poisoned rat in a hole."  It is
believed by some that Swift secretly married Ether Johnson in 1716, but
there is no documentation to prove this to be true. A period of literary
silence and personal depression followed, but beginning in 1718, he broke
the silence, and began to publish a series of powerful tracts on Irish
problems.
In 1720 he began his most famous work, Gulliver's Travels which was
published in 1726 and remains to this day a classic of English Literature. 
In 1728, his “stella” Esther Johnson, died and by 1735, when a collected
edition of his Works was published in Dublin, his Meniere's Disease had
worsened and his memory was beginning to deteriorate. During 1738 he slipped
gradually into senility, and finally suffered a paralytic stroke in 1742.
Jonathan Swift died on October 19, 1745 and is buried in St. Patrick’s
Cathedral, Dublin beside Esther Johnson. 
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User Comments
  1. Moses Ingram

    On January 27, 2013 at 12:15 am


    This is Part 10 of The Greatest Writers of the English Language.

  2. RBB1010

    On January 27, 2013 at 12:53 am


    Another very good article on a famous English literary writer who wrote Gulliver’s Travels. So much good writing left for us down through history to read by these different men like Jonathan Swift. Thanks for this good share.

  3. jennifer eiffel01

    On January 27, 2013 at 1:59 am


    This was excellent. Very thorough with things I had no idea about. I had no idea he was Irish! Keep up the good work, I am looking forward to more.

  4. PJ Fox

    On January 27, 2013 at 3:28 am


    Very good, I haven’t read him in years

  5. afaceristonline

    On January 27, 2013 at 3:39 am


    very interesting post .thanks for share

  6. Rezaul Karim2

    On January 27, 2013 at 5:45 am


    Nicely done and thanks for sharing.

  7. caesar27

    On January 28, 2013 at 4:10 am


    you make a nice work here,thanks for share

  8. Eldridge

    On January 31, 2013 at 9:19 am


    Ah yes. I remember this guy. He wrote a satire about eating babies, didn’t he?

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