(1730-74). By the
time Oliver Goldsmith was 30 years old, his
carelessness and love of fun had brought failure in everything he had
tried. Finally he became a hack writer, turning out books and articles
on all sorts of subjects for London booksellers. He took time,
however, to work slowly and carefully on a few pieces that brought
him lasting fame. They were a novel, `The Vicar of Wakefield'; a play,
`She Stoops to Conquer'; and a long poem, `The Deserted Village'.
was born in an Irish village (usually believed to be
Pallas, near Ballymahon) on Nov. 10, 1730. His father was a poor
Anglican clergyman. The fifth of eight children, he was awkward and
slight, and an early attack of smallpox disfigured his skin. He was
clever, however, and made friends with a ready wit.
was not quite 16 years old, he entered Trinity
College, Dublin. He was always involved in some student escapade
and found little time to study. Nevertheless, he managed to earn a
Bachelor of Arts degree by 1749.
studied theology, law, and medicine in turn for a year
or two each; but he preferred fishing and flute playing to books. He
traveled for a year in Europe, then settled in London. He claimed to
be a physician with a degree from a foreign university, and people
called him "doctor." Nobody came for treatment, however, so he
turned to writing.
essays `The Citizen of the World', published in 1762,
won the attention of Samuel Johnson, then England's leading man of
letters. Johnson included Goldsmith in his circle of friends. Writing
brought Goldsmith a fair income, but he was perpetually in debt. He
died on April 4, 1774, after trying to cure himself of a fever.
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© Enrique García Perpiñán