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The Life and Legacy of Oliver Goldsmith

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Oliver Goldsmith, a prominent 18th-century literary figure, is renowned for his essays, poems, plays, and the novel 'The Vicar of Wakefield.' Born in Ireland, his modest upbringing and education at Trinity College led to a life of travel and varied professions before he found success in London's literary circles. Despite financial struggles, Goldsmith's works like 'The Traveller' and 'She Stoops to Conquer' reflect his wit, social critique, and Neoclassical style, securing his enduring legacy in English literature.

Early Life and Education of Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith, an iconic figure in 18th-century literature, was born on November 10, 1728, in County Longford, Ireland. He was the fifth child of Charles Goldsmith, a clergyman of the Church of Ireland. Despite his father's position, the family lived modestly. Goldsmith's education began in the village school, but his academic journey was not particularly distinguished. He contracted smallpox at a young age, which left his face marked for life. In 1745, he enrolled at Trinity College, Dublin, as a sizar—a status that afforded him free tuition in exchange for performing menial tasks for wealthier students. Goldsmith graduated in 1749 with a Bachelor of Arts but found his prospects limited. He ventured to Edinburgh in 1752 to study medicine, though his degree's authenticity was later questioned. His European travels, funded by uncertain means, influenced his later writings before he settled in England in 1756.
18th-century style study with mahogany desk, open book, quill in inkwell, and bookshelf filled with leather-bound books in a warmly lit room.

Goldsmith's Struggle for Livelihood and Entry into Writing

Struggling to find a stable income in England, Oliver Goldsmith dabbled in various professions, including apothecary's assistant, school usher, and physician, though his medical qualifications were not fully recognized. He eventually turned to writing, a profession not highly regarded at the time, and settled in London. His financial situation was precarious, and he frequently faced the threat of debtor's prison. Nevertheless, Goldsmith's literary talent began to shine with the publication of "An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe" (1759), which reflected his educational background and European observations. This work marked the beginning of his career as a writer of note.

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Goldsmith's birthdate and place

Born on Nov 10, 1728, in County Longford, Ireland.


Goldsmith's college and student status

Attended Trinity College, Dublin in 1745 as a sizar.


Goldsmith's post-graduation ventures

Studied medicine in Edinburgh, 1752; traveled Europe; settled in England, 1756.


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