Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith | First Editions

1728 - 1774

Oliver Goldsmith (10 November 1728 – 4 April 1774) was an Irish novelist, playwright and poet, who is best known for his novelThe Vicar of Wakefield (1766), his pastoral poem The Deserted Village (1770), and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1771, first performed in 1773). He is thought to have written the classic children's tale The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes (1765). 

Goldsmith's work was often influenced by the events occurring around him; for example, in the 1760s, Goldsmith witnessed the demolition of an ancient village and destruction of its farms. This was to clear land, making way for a wealthy man's garden. Subsequently, Goldsmith produced the poem The Deserted Village, published in 1770, which expresses a fear that the destruction of villages and the conversion of land from productive agriculture to ornamental landscape gardens would ruin the peasantry. As such, he should be considered an important writer in environmentalist studies, alongside writers such as John Clare.

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