As with his acclaimed biography of John Donne, John Stubbs paints a vivid portrait of an extraordinary man and a turbulent period of English and Irish history.
Born in Ireland in 1667, Jonathan Swift defiantly clung to his Englishness. He refused to relinquish this attachment even as corruption and injustice gradually led him to turn against the English government. In a long life, Swift proved a reluctant rebel, though one with a relish for the fight, and implacable when provoked - a voice of withering disenchantment unrivalled in English. But he was also an inspired humorist, a beloved companion, a conscientious Anglican minister, as well as a hoaxer and a teller of tales. His anger against abuses of power would produce the most famous satire of the English language - Gulliver's Travels as well as the Drapier Papers and the unparallelled Modest Proposal, in which he imagined the poor of Ireland farming their infants for the tables of wealthy colonists.
John Stubbs' biography sets out to capture the dirt and beauty of a world that Swift both scorned and sought to amend. It follows Swift through his many battles, for and against authority, and in his many contradictions, as a priest who sought to uphold the dogma of his church; as a man who was quite prepared to defy convention, not least in his unshakeable attachment to an unmarried woman, his 'Stella'; and as a writer whose vision showed that no single creed holds all of the answers.