The Works of Dr. Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's, Dublin

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by Jonathan Swift

The Works of Dr. Jonathan Swift

Title page from The Works of Dr. Jonathan Swift, volume one, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Jonathan Swift
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Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Edinburgh: Printed for A. Donaldson and sold at his shop in London, and at Edinburgh
Date 1768
Edition {{{edition}}}
Language English
Volumes 13 volume set
Pages {{{pages}}}
Desc. 12mo (18 cm.)
Location Shelf N-2
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Bookplate of William Thirlwall Bayne, front pastedown, volume one.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) rose out of a disadvantaged upbringing in Ireland to a position of intellectual superiority.[1] In 1696 he published his first book, A Tale of the Tub, under the patronage of Sir William Temple.[2] Swift continued to write poetry and critical essays, and rose in both Irish and English intellectual circles until his defense of the Oxford–Bolingbroke ministry caused his exile from England and permanent return to Ireland in 1714.[3]

After his return to Ireland, Swift rebelled against colonialism and began to write about politics and social injustice. During this time he wrote numerous essays about the abysmal conditions of the overpopulating poor and A Modest Proposal, which criticizes abusive church practices. In this famous satire, Swift suggested the wealthy should eat the children of the poor to solve social problems.

Swift is best known for his satire Gulliver’s Travels (1726), where he displays his liberal attitude, idealism, and belief in social reform governed by reason and justice. Instead of commenting on individuals or contemporary social movements, Swift imaginatively discusses the flaws of human nature and general concepts of morality.[4]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Swift’s works. 13.v. 12mo." This was one of the titles kept by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson sold a set of Swift's works to the Library of Congress in 1815, but the volumes soon went missing or were never received. Nothing indicates an edition or Wythe's prior ownership.[5] Both George Wythe's Library[6] on LibraryThing and the Brown Bibliography[7] include the 1768 London edition of The Works of Dr. Jonathan Swift. LibraryThing adds "A reissue of this work was published in 1774, but Wythe's copy was almost certainly an original issue." The Wolf Law Library followed the recommendations of Brown and LibraryThing and purchased a copy of the 1768 edition for the George Wythe Collection.

Prior owner's signature, front pastedown, volume four.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in contemporary full brown calf, spines decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments in a floral design, dark brown gilt morocco lettering labels and five raised bands (all ruled in gilt). Includes signature of "K. W. Greathead" and the bookplate of William Thirlwall Bayne with the motto "Fiducia" (Trust) on the front pastedown of each volume except volume two. Purchased from Dragon Books.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

See also


  1. Harry T. Baker, “Jonathan Swift,” The Sewanee Review, 34:1 (1926), pp. 1-11.
  2. L.M. Harris, “Jonathan Swift,” The Sewanee Review, 3:2 (1895), pp. 231-248.
  3. Clive Probyn, “Swift, Jonathan (1667–1745)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004), accessed October 10, 2013. All biographical information is from this source unless otherwise noted.
  4. Baker, pp. 3-4.
  5. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 2nd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983), 4:522 [no number].
  6. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe", accessed on February 24, 2014.
  7. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:

External links