Tobias George Smollett

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Smollet’s plaque which he shared with Chelsea China
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Details

Name:Tobias George Smollett

Dates:1721 - 1771

Profession:Literature

Address: 16 Lawrence Street , SW3

Dates at address:1750 - 1762

Biography

Tobias Smollet was educated at Glasgow University, where he studied medicine, before becoming an apprentice surgeon. Here he demonstrated his satirical humour, giving “offence to the more serious part of the citizens”, and also his serious side, writing a powerful eulogy to a young friend who had died. He married Anne Lassells in Kingston, Jamaica in 1743. Separated in 1744 she joined him in London in 1747.

Smollett first came to London in 1740 to find a producer for his tragedy, The Regicide. Failing in this he enlisted as surgeon’s mate in the navy in 1741, serving in various campaigns in the Caribbean. Broke, he returned to London as a surgeon in 1744 and restarted his writing. His work includes plays, comedies, satires, histories and translations. He was also editor of Critical Review and the British Magazine.

He moved into part of Monmouth House adjacent to Chelsea China in 1750. Here he wrote his Histories of England, having his servants “deny me to all those with whom I had no express business”, and edited the Critical Review. It was as editor that he ran into trouble, launching a vicious attack on Admiral Knowles, which led to him being sued for libel and imprisoned in 1760. Ill health forced Smollett to leave England in 1763 and again in 1766, inspiring his more bitter satires. He died in Italy in 1771.

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