Fun Facts Friday: Jonathan Swift

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Jonathan Swift (30 November, 1667 – 19 October, 1745) was an English satirist, essayist, poet, and pamphleteer. Mr. Swift is remembered for his prose and satire in works like Gulliver’s Travels.

Books by Jonathan Swift*

Books by Jonathan Swift*

  1. Mr. Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland. His father, Jonathan Swift, was a lawyer.
  2. At Dublin University (Trinity College, Dublin) Mr. Swift studied to be a priest. In 1702 he finally received his Doctor of Divinity degree.
  3. In 1704 Mr. Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books which helped him gain recognition as a writer.
  4. Together with his friends Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, Mr. Swift formed the core of Martinus Scriblerus Club in 1713. The Scriblerus Club was an informal association of authors.
  5. Mr. Swift immortalized his friend and lover Esther Vanhomrigh, 20 years older than him, in a poem called Cadenus and Vanessa (1713). This is the first time the name Vanessa was used as a woman’s name.
  6. English poet, critic, and translator John Dryden was a distant cousin of Mr. Swift (Mr. Dryden’s grandfather was the uncle of Mr. Swift’s grandmother). In fact, he wrote him a letter telling him “Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet.”
  7. The book Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, today known simply as Gulliver’s Travels, sold 10,000 copies in the first three weeks after it was published (anonymously). By the standards of the time it was a huge best seller.
  8. Mr. Swift has been described as “a Whig in politics and Tory in religion”. The author agreed with this assessment stating that as “a lover of liberty, I found myself to be what they called a Whig in politics…But, as to religion, I confessed myself to be an High-Churchman”.
  9. As a skilled pamphleteer Mr. Swift wrote in support of Irish causes producing several memorable works.
  10. After his death, and according to his wishes, much of his fortune was used to found St. Patrick’s Hospital for Imbeciles (the mentally ill). The hospital still exists as St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Irelands leading not-for-profit mental health organization.

Books by Jonathan Swift*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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