Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, poet, Tory pamphleteer and Anglican priest whose works were published in the first decades of the 18th century.
He is generally regarded as the preeminent satirist in the English language. All of Swift's works were published under pseudonyms, to maintain distance between his day job as a priest and his caustic, cynical wit.
He is an example of Vindicated by History: while his works were reasonably well known at the time, he and fellow Tory Alexander Pope are nowadays much better known than their Whig rivals such as Joseph Addison and Dick Steele, whose party defeated the Tories so comprehensively that it forced Swift into exile.
Well known works:
- Gullivers Travels, a satire of travelogues.
- A Modest Proposal, a satirical essay written to protest the suffering of the Irish under British rule.
- A Tale of a Tub, a satirical (noticing a trend?) novel.
Tropes relating to the creator
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: There is a (probably facetious) theory some people have that Swift was really a Martian. This is due to a chapter in Gullivers Travels where an advanced civilization tells Gulliver that Mars has two moons and gives numbers for their orbiting distance and rotational speed. Over a hundred years later, Astronomer Asaph Hall discovered Mars really did have two moons, and the numbers listed were fairly close to the real ones, So much that Hall was seriously freaked out about it at the time.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Given that his primary claim to fame is his virulently misanthropic satires, it can come as a shock to modern readers that he was most famous to his contemporaries as a philanthropist, and was well-known and -loved for his generous nature. Notably, he was famous for extending charity to Irish Catholics, a move which, given that he was a priest of the Church of England, could have gotten him de-frocked and blacklisted.