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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Tobias George Smollett (1721-1771), Novelist

Novelist; born and educated in Dumbartonshire; sent to Glasgow University, 1736, to study medicine; left for London with a play, 1739, to seek his fortune; sailed as surgeon's mate on board the 'Cumberland' in Ogle's West India squadron 1741-43 and married in Jamaica; settled, 1744, as a surgeon in Downing Street; his picaresque novel Roderick Random, inspired by Gil Blas, appeared 1748, Peregrine Pickle, 1751, Humphry Clinke, 1771; edited the new Critical Review, 1756, and brought out a large History of England and The Reprisal, a farce, 1757; imprisoned, 1759, for libel; after Travels in France and Italy published 1766, nicknamed by Sterne 'Smelfungus'; a ruthless satire on public affairs Adventures of an Atom appeared 1769; left England 1769 and died at Monte Nero near Leghorn.
His health failing, he wrote to his friend the Scottish surgeon John Hunter in the spring of 1770: 'If I can prevail upon my wife to execute my last will, you shall receive my poor carcase in a box after I am dead to be placed among your rarities. I am already so dry and emaciated that I may pass for an Egyptian mummy without any other preparation than some pitch and painted linen.' [1]

Footnotesback to top

1) Dictionary of National Biography, XVIII, p 588.

Referencesback to top

Knapp 1949
L. W. Knapp, Tobias Smollett, 1949.

Knapp (ed.) 1970
The Letters of Tobias Smollett, ed. L. W. Knapp, 1970.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.