On this day in history : 19th October 1745 – The death of Anglo-Irish author, poet and satirist Jonathan Swift – most famous for his masterpiece Gulliver’s Travels….

Johnathan Swift – portrait by Charles Jervas – Public domain

Swift’s English father had settled in Ireland and married the daughter of an English clergyman…. Then in 1667 he died leaving his pregnant wife and young daughter to be cared for by his in-laws…. Swift was born and the fatherless family was supported by his mother’s brothers – who treated him well and at the age of six he was sent to Kilkenny, the best school in Ireland…. Then he went to Trinity College in Dublin, graduating in February 1686 with a Bachelor of Arts degree….

Swift’s birthplace – 1865 illustration by T.Morton – Houghton Library – Public domain

Returning to England to escape the unrest in Ireland Swift joined the household of his mother’s distant relative Sir William Temple, of Moor Park, near to Farnham in Surrey…. He remained here until Temple’s death in 1699 and it was where his writing career began…. He did return to Ireland a couple of times during this period – and on one such occasion took orders at the Anglican Church, ordaining as a priest in January 1695….. He was to become Vicar of Kilroy, near to Belfast….

After Temple’s death he returned to Dublin for a longer period…. By now he was becoming recognised in London, for his satirical wit as a writer…. His popularity grew, especially for his religious and political essays, such as A Tale of Tub…. Swift became a writer of political pamphlets, first for the Whigs and then the Tories…. But when King George I came to the Throne in 1714 the Tories were ruined…. Swift’s career in England was over….he retreated to Ireland and turned to poetry….

However, his greatest work, Gulliver’s Travels, was yet to come, being published in 1726…. It was originally entitled Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World and was written under the pseudonym of ‘Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships’…. The prose satire was an immediate success – and was to go on to become one of our classics of English literature…. It is often thought of as being a children’s book but is actually a sophisticated satire of human nature and was based on Swift’s own life experiences….

First edition of Gulliver’s Travels – Public domain

Swift died on the 19th of October 1745 – and was buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin – where he had served as Dean from 1713-1745….

Swift at the Deanery, St. Patrick’s – illustration from 1905 Temple Scott edition of ‘Works’ – Public domain

One thought on “On this day in history….19th October 1745

  1. Hi Hazel, another informative, interesting and well written article. Swift had an interesting life and it would appear quite fortunate tor the time. Thank you for entertaining us so well on a Monday morning!!

    Like

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