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Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift

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Jonathan Swift was born on 30th November 1667 in Dublin, and educated at Trinity College in that city and Oxford University. He was a cousin of John Dryden. Swift's father was a lawyer who had gone to Ireland after the Restoration, but he died before his son's birth. After becoming secretary to Sir William Temple in England, Swift returned to Dublin where he was ordained. In 1713 he became dean of St Patrick's.Swift gave one third of his income to charities and used his own money to fund St Patrick's Hospital for Imbeciles. He was himself thought by many to be insane in his later years.

Although nominally a Whig, Swift became editor of the Tory journal the Examiner His first major work, A Tale of a Tub, was published 1704 and through the development of his writing career he became close friends with the poet Alexander Pope. Together with other writers, they founded a literary group called the Martinus Scriblerus Club in 1713. His political satires form a large amount of his life's work and include the famous essay, A Modest Proposal (1729), where he suggests that the solution to the starvation of the poor in Ireland is that they should eat their own children. Gulliver's Travels (1729) is the only book for which he received any money (£200) and he never wrote under his own name. It is unclear whether Swift ever formally married, but he was very close to Esther Johnson, known as Stella, whom he had met through Temple. He died in 1745 and was buried beside her in St Patrick's.

His Latin epitaph, written by himself, reads: 'Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, D.D., dean of this cathedral, where burning indignation can no longer lacerate his heart.Go, traveller, and imitate if you can a man who was an undaunted champion of liberty.