#OTD in 1774 – Death of novelist, playwright and poet, Oliver Goldsmith.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Goldsmith lived a thoroughly interesting life, perennially in debt and always fearing the debtors prison. His literary work has been praised and decried. Following his graduation from Trinity College in 1749, he became a kind of wandering minstrel through mainland Europe until he finally settled in London in 1756 where he indulged in a bohemian life of drinking and gambling. His most famous works are The Deserted Village and The Vicar of Wakefield, the work which saved him from debtor’s prison. When his landlady threatened to have him arrested for non-payment, Goldsmith’s friend Samuel Johnson took the manuscript of The Vicar of Wakefield and sold it to a publishing house on his behalf.

Goldsmith was apparently an extraordinarily vain, jealous man but one whom Horace Walpole described as an “inspired idiot.” His death in 1774 was partly due to his failure to seek proper medical treatment for his failing health.

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