A Chronology of Jonathan Swift's Life

David Cody, Associate Professor of English, Hartwick College

1667 Jonathan Swift born on November 30 in Dublin, Ireland; the son of Anglo-Irish parents. His father dies a few months before Swift is born.

1673 At the age of six, Swift begins his education at Kilkenny Grammar School, which was, at the time, the best in Ireland.

1682-1686 Swift attends, and graduates from, Trinity College, Dublin

1688 William of Orange invades England, initiating the Glorious Revolution in England. With Dublin in political turmoil, Trinity College is closed, and Swift goes to England.

1689 Swift becomes secretary in the household of Sir William Temple at Moor Park in Surrey. Swift reads extensively in Temple's library, and meets Esther Johnson, who will become his "Stella." He first begins to suffer from Meniere's Disease, a disturbance of the inner ear.

1690 At the advice of his doctors, Swift returns to Ireland.

1691 Swift, back with Temple in England, visits Oxford.

1692 Temple enables Swift to receive an M. A. degree from Oxford, and Swift publishes first poem.

1694 Swift leaves Temple's household and returns to Ireland to take holy orders.

1695 Swift ordained as a priest in the Church of Ireland, the Irish branch of the Anglican Church.

1696-1699 Swift returns to Moor Park, and composes most of A Tale of a Tub, his first great work. In 1699 Temple dies, and Swift travels to Ireland as chaplain and secretary to the Earl of Berkeley.

1700 Swift instituted Vicar of Laracor, and presented to the Prebend of Dunlavin in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

1701 Swift awarded D. D. from Dublin University, and publishes his first political pamphlet, supporting the Whigs against the Tories.

1704 Anonymous publication of Swift's A Tale of a Tub, The Battle of the Books, and The Mechanical Operation of the Spirit.

1707 Swift in London as emissary of Irish clergy seeking remission of tax on Irish clerical incomes. His requests are rejected by the Whig government. He meets Esther Vanhomrigh, who will become his "Vanessa." During the next few years he is back and forth between Ireland and England, where he is involved in the highest political circles.

1708 Swift meets Addison and Steele, and publishes the Bickerstaff Papers and An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity.

1710 Swift returns to England. Publication of "A Description of a City Shower." Swift falls out with Whigs, allies himself with the Tories, and becomes editor of the Tory newspaper The Examiner.

1710- Swift writes the series of letters which will be published as The Journal to Stella.

1713 Swift installed as Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

1714 Foundation of Scriblerus Club. Queen Anne dies, George I takes the throne, the Tories fall from power, and Swift's hopes for preferment in England come to an end: he returns to Ireland "to die," as he says, "like a poisoned rat in a hole."

1716 Swift marries? Stella (Esther Johnson).

1718 Swift begins to publish tracts on Irish problems.

1720 Swift begins work upon Gulliver's Travels, intended, as he says in a letter to Pope, "to vex the world, not to divert it."

1724- Publication of The Drapier Letters, which gain him enormous 1725 popularity in Ireland. Gullivers Travels completed.

1726 Visit to England, where he visits with Pope at Twickenham; publication of Gulliver's Travels.

1727 Swift's Last trip to England.

1727-1736 Publication of five volumes of Swift-Pope Miscellanies.

1728 Death of Stella.

1729 Publication of Swift's A Modest Proposal.

1731 Publication of Swift's "A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed."

1735 Collected edition of Swift's Works published in Dublin; Swift is suffering from Meniere's Disease, resulting in periods of dizziness and nausea, and his memory is deteriorating.

1738 Swift slips gradually into senility, and suffers a paralytic stroke.

1742 Guardians appointed to care for Swift's affairs.

1745 Swift dies on October 19. The following is Yeats's poetic version (a very free translation) of the Latin epitaph which Swift composed for himself:

Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
World-besotted traveller; he
Served human liberty.

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