Who was Jonathan Swift?
Jonathan Swift was a satirist and novelist most
famous for his work "Gulliver's Travels".
Date and Place of Birth:
30th November 1667, Dublin, Ireland.
Swift's parents were both English. His father
died before his birth. His sister and he were raised by his mother
and three uncles.
Kilkenny School, Ireland. Trinity College, Dublin.
Chronology/Biography of Jonathan Swift:
1682: Went to Trinity
College, Dublin although he was never a very good student.
1686: Received his
degree "speciali gratia" i.e. because of a special decree.
Undaunted he stayed on to study for a higher degree.
1689: Moved to England
due to political unrest in Ireland and worked as secretary to Sir
William Temple at Moor Park, Farnham in Surrey. Temple an ex-diplomat
needed someone to help him prepare his memoirs. The relationship
between the two men was always difficult but Swift stayed with him
for ten years. Whilst at Moor Park he had full access to the large,
well-stocked library. He became the tutor to Esther Johnson the
daughter of Temple's housekeeper. He referred to Esther as Stella
in his writings and some say that the two were secretly married.
He supported his master on the side of the Ancients in the "Querelle
des Anciens et des Modernes" which had spread from France and
started to write "The Battle of the Books".
1699: Death of Sir
William Temple. Swift returned to Ireland and took up various positions
in the church.
1704: Jonathan Swift's
first book "A Tale of a Tub", which he had worked on at
Moor Park, was published anonymously. This was considered to be
blasphemous by Queen Anne and put paid to any chances of preferment
within the church. He continued to write numerous essays and his
popularity increased both in England as well as Ireland.
1710: Returned to
London. Although he had been born into the Whig political tradition
he now began to be influenced by the Tories and he became Editor
of the Tory journal "The Examiner". Also began writing
the "Journal to Stella."
1713: Swift and
his literary friends founded the Scriblerus Club.
1714: At the death
of Queen Anne the Tory tradition came to an abrupt end and Swift
returned to Ireland for good. He became Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral
in Dublin. He wrote little more until the 1720's when he began to
write poetry again. His essays of the period were quite satirical,
especially "A Modest Proposal" in which Swift proposes
selling the children of the Irish poor as food for the rich. He
also engaged himself in the cause of Irish liberties.
1721: Jonathan Swift
began to write his most famous work "Gulliver's Travels".
"The Drapier's Letters" which concerned itself with the
restrictions placed by the English on Irish Trade particularly in
the wool industry.
1725: Finished "Gulliver's
Travels." This work is in several parts and aims it's satire
at political parties, religious dissension and man's inhumanity
1726: Gulliver was
published anonymously and was an instant success. Short visit to
1727: Short visit
1730's: He continued
to write but some writers have said that his sanity was in doubt.Some
recent scholars think that this may have been caused by Meniere's
Disease.It is clear that a disorder of the inner-ear causing vertigo
caused him much trouble.
1733: He published
what he himself considered to be his best satire, "On Poetry:
1742: Jonathan Swift
suffered a stroke and was cared for by local people.
“Contests in Athens and Rome”.
- 1704: “The
Battle of Books”. “A Tale of a Tub”.
“Esquire Bickerstaff's most Strange and Wonderful Predictions
for the Year 1708”.
- 1712: “Meditation
Upon a Broomstick”.
“An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity”. “Conduct of the
“Proposals for Correcting the English Language”.
“Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures”.
“Letter to a Young Gentleman Lately Entered into Holy Orders”.
- 1726: ”Gulliver's
Travels.” “Cadenus and Vanessa”.
- 1728: “A
Short View of the State of Ireland”.
“A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People
from Being a Burden to their Parents”.
- 1735: “Collected
- 1736: “The
“Directions to Servants”.
“The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen”.
Probably never married although sometimes said
to have married Esther Johnson, whom he called Stella, in secret.
Places of Interest:
Date and Place of Death:
19th October 1745, Dublin, Ireland.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, next to "Stella"