Comic dramatist, poet and reviewer, Oliver Goldsmith wrote one novel, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), now acknowledged as his finest work. The story opens in the country parsonage of Dr Primrose, a kindly man who has a good heart, a good family and a good income. Suddenly, his idyllic life is cruelly devastated by a series of misfortunes, and he ends up in gaol. Yet, despite all this calamity and injustice, the vicar never loses sight of Christian morality, and while this conviction lends him a genuine nobility, in the end it also brings justice and the restoration of his family and fortune. Through this simple, almost fairy-tale plot, Goldsmith gives us a charming comedy; not a novel of sentiment, but an artful send-up of many of the familiar literary conventions of his day: the pastoral scene, the artificial romance, the unquestioning stoic bravery of the hero - all culminating, of course, in a gloriously improbable denouement.