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My Life: Jonathan Swift


Jonathan Swift was born on the 30th November 1667 in Dublin, Ireland to his Irish father; Jonathan Swift and English mother, Abigail Erick.  Jonathan had been born, seven months after the death of his father.  His mother Abigail left him in the custody of Godwin, his uncle and she fled to England.

When Jonathan was six, he attended Kilkenny Grammar School and in 1682 entered Dublin University and received a B.A. Degree in 1686.

Jonathan left Ireland in 1688, as William of Orange invades England, amidst times of political unrest, securing employment as a secretary to Sir William Temple at Moor Park.

In 1690, Swift is diagnosed with Meniere’s disease.  It was at this time he wrote “The Battle of the Books” a satire published in 1704.  In 1692 Swift received an M.A. degree from Oxford University, then returned to Ireland and took up the post of Priest in the Church of Ireland at his ordination in 1695.

In 1696, Swift returned to England to work as Sir William Temple’s assistant, until Temple death on the 27th January 1699.  Thereafter returning to Ireland as Chaplain and Secretary to the Earl of Berkley.

In 1702 Swift was awarded with “Doctor of Divinity from Trinity College, Dublin.  With the publication of the Battle Books, he achieved success as a writer.

In 1707 the politically active Swift went to London, seeking claims for the Irish Clergy; seeking remission of tax on Irish clerical incomes.

The Whig administration of Lord Godolphin dismissed his claims, which led to Swift’s actions in print.  “The Conduct of the Allies in 1711, a pamphlet criticizing the Whig administration, and the war with France.

In 1710, the Tory party came to power with a new ally; Jonathan Swift who was appointed editor of the “Examiner.”

In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of Spanish Succession, and the French War.  That same year, Swift was installed as Dean of St.Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

In 1714, the Tory government lost out to the Whig’s who took power, and they charged Tory leaders with treason for what they considered to be illegal negotiations with France.

Jonathan Swift returned to Ireland writing a series of political writings in 1718.  In 1726 published Gulliver’s Travels anonymously, the success led to French, Dutch and German versions being printed in 1727.

Jonathan Swift had an intimate relationship with Esther Johnson, whom he first met when she was eight, a relationship maintained all his life.  It is believed they secretly married, but there be no proof to that effort.

Esther Vanhomrigh, became infatuated with Jonathan, but the feelings were not mutual.

On the 28th January 1728, Esther Johnson died, and Jonathan’s life had been torn apart, pushing him over the edge, towards mental illness.  Moved by her death, he wrote extensively about death.  Then in 1738, suffered a paralytic stroke.

On the 19th October 1745, Jonathan Swift died, and in accordance with his final wishes, requested he be buried close to the grave of his beloved one; Esther Johnson.

He left all his assets, to be used to create a hospital dedicated for those with mental illnesses.

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