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