Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith, 1730?–1774, Anglo-Irish author. The son of an Irish clergyman, he was graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1749. He studied medicine at Edinburgh and Leiden, but his career as a physician was quite unsuccessful. In 1756 he settled in London, where he achieved some success as a miscellaneous contributor to periodicals and as the author of Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe (1759). But it was not until The Citizen of the World (1762), a series of whimsical and satirical essays, that he was recognized as an able man of letters. His fame grew with The Traveler (1764), a philosophic poem, and the nostalgic pastoral The Deserted Village (1770). However, his literary reputation rests on his two comedies, The Good-natur'd Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1773), and his only novel, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766). His comedies injected a much-needed sense of realism into the dull, sentimental plays of the period. They are lively, witty, and imbued with an endearing humanity. The Vicar of Wakefield is the warm, humorous, if somewhat melodramatic, story of a country parson and his family. Although he earned a great deal of money in his lifetime, Goldsmith's improvidence kept him poor. Boswell depicted him as a ridiculous, blundering, but tenderhearted and generous creature. He had the friendship of many of the literary and artistic great of his day, the most notable being that of Samuel Johnson.

See biography by R. M. Wardle (1957, repr. 1969); R. Quintana (1967), R. H. Hopkins (1969), R. L. Harp (1976), and J. Giner (1978).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

FREE! The Poems of Oliver Goldsmith
Oliver Goldsmith; Austin Dobson.
J.M. Dent, 1893
The Vicar of Wakefield: A Tale Supposed to Be Written by Himself
Oliver Goldsmith; Arthur Friedman.
Oxford University, 1999
FREE! She Stoops to Conquer
Oliver Goldsmith; C. Moore Smith.
Frederick A. Stokes, 1897
Oliver Goldsmith
A. Norman Jeffares.
Longmans, Green & Co., 1959
Goldsmith's Animated Nature: A Study of Goldsmith
Albert S. Cook; James Hall Pitman.
Yale University Press, 1924
FREE! Goldsmith
William Black.
Harper & Brothers, 1879
Goldsmith on Burke and Gray
Lutz, Alfred.
Papers on Language & Literature, Vol. 34, No. 3, Summer 1998
The Search for Good Sense: Four Eighteenth-Century Characters: Johnson, Chesterfield, Boswell [And] Goldsmith
F. L. Lucas.
Cassell, 1958
The Fame Machine: Book Reviewing and Eighteenth-Century Literary Careers
Frank Donoghue.
Stanford University, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "'He Never Gives Us Nothing That's Low': Oliver Goldsmith"
Encyclopedia of the Essay
Tracy Chevalier.
Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Goldsmith, Oliver" begins on p. 347
Goldsmith and His Booksellers
Elizabeth E. Kent.
A. M. Kelley, 1973
FREE! Little Journeys to the Homes of Good Men and Great: By Elbert Hubbard
Elbert Hubbard.
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1895
Librarian’s tip: "Oliver Goldsmith" begins on p. 299
The Grumbler: An Adaptation
Oliver Goldsmith.
Harvard University Press, 1931
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