Swift's father died shortly before he was born, and he was sent by his mother to live with relatives. He received his B.A. from Trinity College, where his tuition was paid by a rich uncle. He went to England without finishing his M.A. degree, working as a secretary to Sir William Temple--a post he disliked but where he acquired some sophistication and culture. While there, he wrote his satirical burlesque, "A Tale of a Tub." He was ordained an Anglican priest back in Ireland, but immediately returned to England, where he became involved in the brilliant literary "coffee house" circle that included Pope, Gay, Addison, and Steele and began to publish his satirical essays in the Tatler. His Tory politics got him into trouble in England, however, when the Whigs came to power, and he returned to Ireland as Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. He was scarred by his failures in England, but he continued to write enthusiastically, producing his ironic masterpiece "A Modest Proposal" and, in 1726, his great work, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, a synthesis of his bitter, cynical wit and his optimism about the fate of mankind. It was also in Ireland that Swift became involved with the two great loves of his life, Stella and Vanessa, about both of whom little is known. Swift's health, mental and physical, declined drastically when he was in his 60s, and he died virtually insane at the age of 77. .
"It is universally read, from the cabinet council to the nursery."
From the Publisher
My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire; I was the third of five sons.
In Jonathan Swift's bitter and witty satiric look at 18th-century England, his hero, common man Lemuel Gulliver, becomes, as he travels, increasingly frustrated by the corruption and irrationality of the human race. His sea voyage takes him first to Lilliput, where he is exploited by its tiny citizens and then condemned as a traitor. Then he lands in Brobdingnag, where he is repulsed by the size, grossness, and stupidity of the giants who capture him. His third voyage takes him to Laputa, where Swift wickedly satirizes intellectuals as impractical twits, several other fictional islands, and Japan. It's only in the land of the Houyhnhnms that Gulliver finds peace. There gentle, intelligent, and ever-rational horses rule the land, and the ignorant and brutish humans are known as Yahoos. Eventually Gulliver must leave, however, and his return to England--the land of true Yahoos--brings him no joy. When it first appeared (1726), GULLIVER'S TRAVELS shocked the reading public with its bitter outlook, general irreverence, and graphic descriptions of bodily functions. Contemporary readers will still appreciate this merciless satire, since many of Swift's critiques of human nature, politics, and societal conventions ring true even today. A treasure of English literature, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS is a work of wild imagination, enormous humor, and thrilling adventure.