Oliver Goldsmith

?1730-1774

'Touched almost every kind of writing, and touched none that he did not adorn.'

 

Oliver Goldsmith is buried in the grounds of the Church of St. Mary, Middle Temple, Fleet Street, London, England. His monument was destroyed in an air-raid in 1941.
 

Grave of Oliver Goldsmith

After an unsuccessful career as a physician, Goldsmith became a hack writer contributing to periodicals such as Griffith's Monthly Review. In 1759 he published his own literary magazine entitled the Bee.

Goldsmith was a remarkably versatile  writer and eventually achieved distinction as a poet, a playwright and a novelist. His famous elegiac poem The Deserted Village was inspired by his rural childhood in Lissoy in County Westmeath Ireland. It takes as its subject the rural de-population caused by wealthy landlords buying up small farms.

Portrait of Oliver Goldsmith by Joshua Reynolds

His famous novel The Vicar of Wakefield was published in 1776  and his famous stage play She Stoops to Conquer first performed in 1773.

In 1761 Goldsmith met, and became friends with, Dr. Samuel Johnson and was one of the original members of Johnson's Club. Boswell relates  many anecdotes about Goldsmith in his celebrated  Life of Johnson.

As a man, Goldsmith was notorious for his financial ineptitude, his expensive taste in clothes and his wild parties. In 1762 Johnson managed to obtain an advance on The Vicar of Wakefield for him which effectively saved him from debtor's prison.

Goldsmith died on the 4th April 1774 of a kidney infection. He was only 44 years old.

There is also a memorial to him in Westminster Abbey, erected by members of the Club. The inscription on it was written (in Latin) by Samuel Johnson.

Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheared the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summerís lingering blooms delayed

from The Deserted Village (see complete poem )

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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