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Born | (1667-11-30)
Died | (aged )
, , political , ,
Jonathan Swift (, – , ) was an cleric, of , Dublin, , , political (first for Whigs then for Tories), and .
He is famous for works like , , , , , , and . Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the , and is less well known for his . Swift originally published all of his works under — such as , , — or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire; the and styles.
Jonathan Swift was born at No. 7, Hoey's Court, , and was the second child and only son of Jonathan Swift (a second cousin of ) and wife Abigail Erick (or Herrick), paternal grandson of Thomas Swift and wife Elizabeth Dryden, daughter of Nicholas Dryden (brother of ) and wife Mary Emyley. His father was Irish born and his mother was born in England. Swift arrived seven months after his father's untimely death. Most of the facts of Swift's early life are obscure, confused and sometimes contradictory. It is widely believed that his mother returned to England when Jonathan was still very young, then leaving him to be raised by his father's family. His uncle Godwin took primary responsibility for the young Jonathan, sending him with one of his cousins to (also attended by the philosopher ).
Jonathan Swift at Trinity
In 1682 he attended Dublin University (), receiving his in 1686. Swift was studying for his when political troubles in Ireland surrounding the forced him to leave for England in 1688, where his mother helped him get a position as secretary and personal assistant of Sir at . Temple was an English who, having arranged the , retired from public service to his country estate to tend his gardens and write his memoirs. Growing into confidence with his employer, Swift "was often trusted with matters of great importance." Within three years of their acquaintance, Temple had introduced his secretary to , and sent him to London to urge the King to consent to a bill for triennial Parliaments.
When Swift took up his residence at Moor Park, he met , then 8 years old, the fatherless daughter of one of the household servants. Swift acted as her tutor and mentor, giving her the nickname "Stella" and the two maintained a close, but ambiguous relationship for the rest of Esther's life.
Swift left Temple in 1690 for Ireland because of his health, but returned to Moor Park the following year. The illness, fits of vertigo or giddiness — now known to be — would continue to plague Swift throughout his life. During this second stay with Temple, Swift received his M.A. from , in 1692. Then, apparently despairing of gaining a better position through Temple's patronage, Swift left Moor Park to become an ordained priest in the Established and in 1694 he was appointed to the of Kilroot in the , with his parish located at , near in .
Swift appears to have been miserable in his new position, being isolated in a small, remote community far from the centres of power and influence. While at Kilroot, however, Swift may well have become romantically involved with Jane Waring. A letter from him survives, offering to remain if she would marry him and promising to leave and never return to Ireland if she refused. She presumably refused, because Swift left his post and returned to England and Temple's service at Moor Park in 1696, and he remained there until Temple's death. There he was employed in helping to prepare Temple's memoirs and correspondence for publication. During this time Swift wrote , a satire responding to critics of Temple's Essay upon Ancient and Modern Learning (1690). Battle was however not published until 1704.
In the summer of 1699 Temple died. Swift stayed on briefly in England to complete the editing of Temple's memoirs, and perhaps in the hope that recognition of his work might earn him a suitable position in England.