Jonathan Swift

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Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) has proven a perennial but elusive subject of literary biography. In the absence of conclusive evidence, questions about his relationships, his health, and his political views all remain open to interpretation, as does their impact on his work. In parallel to an extensive body of literary biography, but also sometimes in opposition to it, fiction and drama also have been important media for the interpretation of his life. Swift’s own autobiographical writing, which extends to prose, poetry, and memorial inscription, complicates the picture further. Covering the autobiographical, personal, and political dimensions, this chapter offers an overview of the changing and enduring preoccupations of Swift biography, which can be broadly defined as a creative enterprise as well as a documentary one.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Companion to Literary Biography
EditorsRichard Bradford
PublisherWiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-118-89628-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-118-89629-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Jonathan Swift
  • Biography

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    James Ward

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    Cite this

    Ward, J. (2018). Jonathan Swift. In R. Bradford (Ed.), A Companion to Literary Biography (pp. 423-436). Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.