Goldsmith the son of an Anglican curate,
born in Pallas County Longford on 10th November 1730. He was educated
at Trinity College Dublin and studied medicine at the universities
of Leiden and Edinburgh. After graduating from Trinity in 1748 he
came to live in Ballymahon Co Longford with his widowed mother,
during this period he applied to join the church but failed. At
the Ballymahon fair he won the sledge hammer throwing competition.
Later he traveled in Europe supporting himself by playing the flute
and it is said begging.
He returned to England and for a time practiced
medicine, eventually he started producing literary works to order,
this work developed Goldsmith's writing which was characterize by
his picturesque descriptions, humor and a graceful style. A breakthrough
came for him when he published a series of letters supposedly written
by a Chinese traveler in London these were later reprinted as 'The
Citizen of the World' (1762)
When this successful series became known
in London literary circles, he was accepted into these circles and
made many influential friends, including Samuel Johnson, who was
foremost literary figure of the day, Sir Joshua Reynolds, the greatest
English painter of the time; and the orator and statesman Edmund
Burke. In 1763, Goldsmith became one of the original nine members
of the celebrated literary society known as The Club which was presided
over by Johnson.
Goldsmith appears not to have been proficient
at handling his financial affairs, he seems to have possessed an
innate generosity which he bestowed upon his needy friends. The
publication of The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) is believed to have
been hastily arranged by Johnson in order to save Goldsmith from
going to jail for debt. This book has endured the test of time and
is now one of the most popular works of fiction in the English language.
His first play, the comedy The Good Naturd
Man (1768), was rejected by Garrick and was a failure when produced
at Covent Garden. 1770 saw the publication of the poem 'The Deserted
Village' it is generally regarded to mark the transition in English
literature from Neo Classicism to Romanticism. She Stoops to Conquer
(1773) a comedy was an immediate success.
Goldsmith continued to write popular books
to order, including books on natural history, histories of Rome,
Greece, and England, all readable but not noted for accuracy. He
died on April 4, 1774, in London and was buried in the churchyard
of the Church of St Mary (The Temple) London.
The Club erected a memorial to him in Westminster Abbey. The inscription,
written by Johnson, includes the tribute Nullum quod tetigit
'He touched nothing that he did not