Oliver Goldsmith essayist, poet, novelist, dramatist, and eccentric, was one of the most popular 18th century English writers.
He was born sometime between 1728 and 1731 to a poor Irish family. Many details of Goldsmith's life are not precisely known, partially because he seems to have frequently lied to his official biographer, about details as innocuous as his birth year or as significant as his lineage. And yet this fact tells us as much about Goldsmith's life and character as any other detail.
It is believed that he was born in the home of his maternal grandfather, The Rev. Oliver Jones at Smith Hill, Elphin. It is also believed that the attended the Diocesan School at Elphin until he was 11 years old.
[Illustrated London News - Saturday 26 April 1856]
To the Rev. Strean: Dear Sir,
The Rev. Oliver Jones was Curate of Elphin, and also had the Diocesan School of that town; lived where I now live, a little more than half half a mile from the church. He had four daughters, and no son. My grandfather, George Hicks, was married to one of those daughters, and consequently knew every circumstance relating to that family, and has often told me that the Rev. Mr Goldsmith who was married to another of Mr Jones’s daughters, had a Curacy somewhere near Athlone, and that Mrs. Goldsmith spent much of her time with her mother, Mrs Jones, then a widow and living at Smith Hill, that Oliver Goldsmith was born here, in his grandfather's house, that he was nursed and reared here and got the early part of his education at the school of Elphin. My mother, the only child of the above George Hicks and Miss Jones, was contemporary with Oliver Goldsmith and brought up in her grandfather's house. She has often told me the forgoing circumstances and has shown me the very spot where the bed stood in which Goldsmith was born. From what I have always heard and understood, I have never had a doubt in my mind that Goldsmith was born here.
I am, etc etc. Robert Jones Lloyd, Smith Hill, Dec 24th, 1807
Oliver Goldsmith was one of seven children. His father was a county vicar who died when Goldsmith was still young. This forced him to rely on a wealthy uncle for support and his relationship with his mother was complicated. He later grew estranged from her.
During his life, Goldsmith was equally known for his brilliance and for his insecurity. He was always noted for his intelligence, and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Trinity College, Dublin in 1750. Goldsmith never bothered to hide his Irish origins, even maintaining his brogue despite the fact that it would have been considered low-class in London, where he settled in 1756. It was here that he finally turned to literature, and his career took off.
Goldsmith is author of the essay collection The Citizen of the World (1762), the novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), the plays The Good Natur’d Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1773), and the poetry collections Traveller, or, a Prospect of Society (1764), An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog (1766), and The Deserted Village: A Poem (1770).
Oliver Goldsmith's statue stands to the right of the front gate of Trinity College Dublin. (On the left stands his friend, the great statesman, Edmund Burke).
|Date of Birth||10th Nov 1730|
|Date of Death||4th Apr 1774|
|Associated Building (s)||Bishop Hodson's Grammar School ELPHIN|
|Father (First Name/s and Surname)||The Rev. Charles Goldsmith|
|Mother (First Name/s and Maiden)||Anne Jones dau. of the Rev. Oliver Jones, Elphin|
|Trinity College on Oliver Goldsmith||Ireland||VIEW SOURCE|