Oliver Goldsmith was born in County Longford, Ireland, the son of an Anglo-Irish clergyman. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin but only scraped through his degree (narrowly escaping expulsion for participating in the release of a fellow student from prison--the Black Dog Riot). After leading an itinerant life across Europe, he came to London in 1756, where he worked in journalism. He became known as a witty essayist and worked his way into the literary circle of Samuel Johnson. Despite being socially awkward, Goldsmith was one of the nine original members of The Club, a literary dining society founded in 1746, along with Johnson and the artist Joshua Reynolds.
In 1764, Goldsmith produced the first bit of work to which he put his name: a poem called The Traveller. He was notoriously bad with money and struggled for debt for most of his adult life. His next works helped ease his financial distress. With the assistance of Samuel Johnson, Goldsmith's novel, The Vicar of Wakefield was published in 1766, and it was followed by his first play The Good-Natur'd Man in 1768. However, it was his next theatrical attempt that became his biggest success and paid off much of his debt. She Stoops to Conquer was first performed in 1771 and it is still regularly produced today.
Goldsmith died in 1774 at the age of just 43. He was buried in London's Temple Church.
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