As Samuel Johnson said in his famous epitaph on his Irish-born and educated friend, Goldsmith ornamented whatever he touched with his pen. A professional writer who died in his prime, Goldsmith wrote the best comedy of his day, She Stoops to Conquer (1773). Amongst a plethora of other fine works, he also wrote The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), which, despite major plot inconsistencies and the intrusion of poems, essays, tales, and lectures apparently foreign to its central concerns, remains one of the most engaging fictional works in English. One reason for its appeal is the character of the narrator, Dr. Primrose, who is at once a slightly absurd pedant, an impatient traditional father of teenagers, a Job-like figure heroically facing life's blows, and an alertly curious, helpful, loving person. Another reason is Goldsmith's own mixture of delight and amused condescension (analogous to, though not identical with, Laurence Sterne's in Tristram Shandy and Johnson's in Rasselas, both contemporaneous) as he looks at the vicar and his domestic group, fit representatives of a ludicrous but workable world. Never married and always facing financial problems, he died in London and was buried in Temple Churchyard.
Henry Austin Dobson was born on January 18, 1840 at Plymouth. He was employed in the Board of Trade from 1856-1901. He started writing original prose and verse around 1864 under the name Austin Dobson. His collections of poetry include Vignettes in Rhyme, Proverbs in Porcelain, Old-World Idylls, and Sign of the Lyre. After 1885, he wrote mostly critical and biographical prose. He wrote biographies of Henry Fielding, Thomas Bewick, Richard Steele, Oliver Goldsmith, Horace Walpole, and William Hogarth. His other works during this time include Four Frenchwomen, Eighteenth-Century Vignettes, and The Paladin of Philanthropy. He died on September 2, 1921.