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Oliver Goldsmith.

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Oliver Goldsmith.


Goldsmith the son of an Anglican curate, was 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 Natur’d 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 non ornavit”
'He touched nothing that he did not adorn'.

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