Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift

Biography of Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift (30 Nov, 1667-19 Oct, 1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who is most remembered for hist famous work Gulliver’s Travels.

Swift's other famous works include A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity and A Tale of a Tub. He is regarded as the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. He originally published all of his works under pseudonyms – such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, MB Drapier – or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire, the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

Gulliver’s Travels, a large portion of which Swift wrote at Woodbrook House in County Laois, was published in 1726. It is regarded as his masterpiece. As with his other writings, the Travels was published under a pseudonym, the fictional Lemuel Gulliver, a ship’s surgeon and later a sea captain. Some of the correspondence between printer Benj. Motte and Gulliver’s also-fictional cousin negotiating the book’s publication has survived. Though it has often been mistakenly thought of and published in bowdlerised form as a children’s book, it is a great and sophisticated satire of human nature based on Swift’s experience of his times. Gulliver’s Travels is an anatomy of human nature, a sardonic looking-glass, often criticised for its apparent misanthropy. It asks its readers to refute it, to deny that it has adequately characterised human nature and society. Each of the four books—recounting four voyages to mostly fictional exotic lands—has a different theme, but all are attempts to deflate human pride. Critics hail the work as a satiric reflection on the shortcomings of Enlightenment thought.

Essays by Jonathan Swift

  1. A Modest Proposal
  2. Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting
  3. Three Sermons and Prayers

Poems by Jonathan Swift

  1. Poems Composed at Market Hill
  2. The Furniture of a Woman's Mind
  3. A Beautiful Young Nymph going to Bed.
  4. An Epistle to Mr. Gay
  5. Baucis and Philemon
  6. Cassinus and Peter
  7. Catullus de Lesbia
  8. Directions for a Birthday Song
  9. Helter Skelter
  10. Judas
  11. Ode on Science
  12. On Poetry: a Rhapsody
  13. On Psyche
  14. On the Death of Dr. Swift
  15. Poems to Cadenus and Vanessa
  16. Political Poems
  17. Riddles
  18. Strephon and Chloe
  19. The Beast's Confession
  20. The Logicians Refuted
  21. The Pheasant and the Lark
  22. The Stella Poems
  23. To a Lady
  24. To Swift on his Birthday
  25. Verses Addressed to Swift and to His Memory
  26. Verses Made for Fruit Women