Biography of Oliver Goldsmith

Portrait of Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith was an eighteenth century novelist and poet.

When and Where was he Born?

The date is is disputed but is generally accepted as 10th November 1730, Smith-Hill House, Elphin, Roscommon, Ireland home of his maternal grandparents or Pallas, near Ballymahon, County Longford, where his father was Anglican curate of of Forgney.

Family Background:

Oliver Goldsmith was the son of an Anglo-Irish Clergyman.


School in Kilkenny West. Trinity College, Dublin. Medical School, Edinburgh.

Timeline of Oliver Goldsmith:

1732: Goldsmith’s father is appointed as the rector of the parish of “Kilkenny West” in County Westmeath, Ireland and the family move there. They live in the parsonage at Lissoy near Athlone.

1747: Death of his father.

1749: Oliver Goldsmith graduates from Trinity College, Dublin. It is recorded that he made no friends there due to his coarse and odd manner. He lived with his mother. This period of his life was set by mishap. His time as a tutor was a disaster and he didn’t manage to go to America because he missed the ship. He went back to Dublin to study law but lost all his money due to gambling.

1754: After coming into some money Goldsmith goes to Edinburgh to study medicine, although he rarely attends lectures.

1755: He visits Leiden in Holland and then Switzerland and Northern Italy. He makes a small living by playing his flute.

1756: He returns to England penniless, although he claimed he had earned a Doctor’s degree, In London he translates minor works and writes some small histories and children’s works. His history of Beau Nash earned him some fame and a little money. He is said to have written “The History of Little Goody Two Shoes” from which the famous phrase comes.

1758: He uses the pseudonym “James Willington” for his autobiography of the Huguenot Jean Marteilhe. James was actually a fellow student at Trinity.

1759: He writes one of the first major works in his cannon “The Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning”. He becomes a member of the “Literary Club” and often conversed with Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke.

1764: With the Publication of “The Traveller” Oliver Goldsmith’s reputation as a poet is finally made.

1766: The publication of “The Vicar of Wakefield” at this time sealed his fame.

1771: Goldsmith moves to Kinsgbury, London.

1773: Perhaps his best known work “She Stoops to Conquer” is highly successful when staged in London. He was still drinking and gambling heavily at this period which contributed to his early demise the following year.

When and Where did he Die?

4th April 1774, London of a kidney infection.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1758: “The Memoirs of a Protestant” (translation.)
1759: “An Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe”
1762: “The Mystery Revealed”, “The Life of Richard Nash”, “The Citizen of the World: or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher”, 2 vols.
1764: “The Traveller; or “A Prospect of Society”: (Poem)
1766: “The Vicar of Wakefield”, “An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog”
1767: “Letter to St James’s Chronicle”
1768: “The Good Natur’d Man” Comedy
1769: “The Roman History”, 2 vols
1770: “The Deserted Village” (Poem) , “The Life of Thomas Parnell” , “The Life of Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke”
1771: “The History of England” 4 vols.
1773: “She Stoops to Conquer” or, “The Mistakes of a Night: A Comedy” , Articles for “The Westminster Magazine”
1774: “Grecian History, Retaliation”: (Poem) , “An History of the Earth, and Animated Nature”, “An Abridgement of the History of England”
1765: “Edwin and Angelina”. (Ballad)
1776: “The Haunch of Venison: A Poetical Epistle to Lord Clare”


Never married.

Site of Grave:

The Temple Church, Temple Fleet Street, London, England.

Places of Interest:


The Temple Church, Temple Fleet Street, London, England.