Tobias Smollett Biography


Tobias Smollett Biography

Tobias George Smollett (1721-1771), Scottish novelist, was born in

Dalquhurn, Dumbarton County Scotland. Smollett was born beneath a plane

tree at Dalquharn House on the family estate of Bon hill in the Vale of Leven,

near the village of Renton, Dumbartonshire. At fourteen Smollett was

apprenticed to a Glasgow doctor. He studied medicine at Glasgow

University and moved to London in 1740. He was a ship's surgeon in the

Carragena expedition against the Spanish in the West Indies, and lived in

Jamaica until 1744 when he returned to London and renewed his earlier

attempts to stage a play he had written The Regicide, but still met with no

success. He also failed to set up his own medical practice.

His first novel, the partly autobiographical Roderick Random

(1748), was an immediate success.  His best novel, The Expedition of

Humphry Clinker (1771), has become a classic. It is a story, told in a series

of letters, about the travels of a family through England and Scotland.

Smollett was troubled by lack of money. He spent his last years  in poor

health, and died in Livorno, Italy, on October 21, 1771. Two years

later, Johnson and Boswell stayed at Cameron House with Smollett's cousin

James, who was preparing to erect a Tuscan column in Smollett's memory at

Renton. Johnson helped compose the Latin obituary on the plinth, and the

column stood in what subsequently became the playground of a school.

Some of Tobias Smollett's work consists of The Tears of Scotland

(1746). Poem on the defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Culloden. The

Adventures of Roderick Random ( 1748 ). Gil Blas. Translation of LeSage's

novel. ( 1749 ). The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle ( 1751 ). The

Adventures of Ferdinand, Count Fathom ( 1753 ). Don Quixote.

Translation of Cervantes' novel. ( 1755). The Adventures of Sir Lancelot

Greaves ( 1760 ). Travels through France and Italy ( 1766 ). The History

and Adventures of an Atom ( 1769 ). The Expedition of Humphrey

Clinker ( 1771 ).

          Some critics regard Tobias Smollet as more satirist meaning that

a work of literature or art that, by inspiring laughter, contempt, or horror,

seeks to correct the follies and abuses it uncovers. I don't know what that

means though.

This is a paragraph from Tobias Smollett's book  The Adventures of

Roderick Random.

Roderick Random is the orphaned, unwanted grandson of a severe old

Scots magistrate, exposed by his grandfather’s known neglect to the malice of

the community. His principal enemies are the schoolmaster and the young

heir. It is not long before a deus ex machina appears in the form of a sailor


         He was a strongly built man, somewhat bandy-legged, with a neck

like that of a bull, and a face which had withstood the most obstinate

assaults of the weather. His dress consisted of a soldier’s coat, altered for

him by the ship’s tailor, a striped flannel jacket, a pair of red breeches

japanned with pitch, clean grey worsted stockings, large silver buckles that

covered theree-fourths of his shoues, a silver laced hat whosecrown

overlooked the brim about an inch and a half, a black bob wig in buckle, a

check shirt, a silk hankerchief, a henger with a brass handle girded on his

thigh by a tarnished laced belt, and a good oak plant under his arm.

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