1713 – Laurence Sterne was born November 24, 1713 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland. His father was an Ensign in a British regiment recently returned from Dunkirk. Sterne’s father’s regiment was disbanded on the day of Sterne’s birth, and within six months the family had returned to Yorkshire in northern England.
1723 – Sterne was sent to Hipperholme Grammar School near Halifax when he was ten years old; he never saw his father again.
1733 – Sterne was admitted to a sizarship at Jesus College, Cambridge, in July 1733 at the age of 20.
1737-1738 – Sterne graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in January 1737. Sterne seems to have been destined to become a clergyman, and was ordained as a deacon in March of 1737 and as a priest in August, 1738. Shortly thereafter Sterne was awarded the living at Sutton-on-the-Forest in Yorkshire.
1740 – Sterne was able to get his Master of Arts degree.
1741 – Sterne married Elizabeth Lumley.
1743 – Sterne was presented to the neighbouring living of Stillington, and did duty both there and at Sutton. He was also a prebendary of York Minster. Sterne’s life at this time was closely tied with his uncle, Dr. Jacques Sterne, the Archdeacon of Cleveland and Precentor of York Minster. Sterne’s uncle was also an ardent Whig, and urged Sterne to begin a career of political journalism which resulted in some scandal for Sterne and, eventually, a terminal falling-out between the two men.
1759 – It was while living in the country-side, having failed in his attempts to supplement his income as a farmer and struggling with tuberculosis, that Sterne began work on his most famous novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, the first volumes of which were published. Sterne was at work on his celebrated comic novel during the year that his mother died, his wife was seriously ill, and he was ill himself with TB. The publication of Tristram Shandy made Sterne famous in London and on the continent. He was delighted by the attention, and spent part of each year in London, being feted as new volumes appeared. Indeed, Baron Fauconberg rewarded Sterne by appointing him as the perpetual curate of Coxwold, North Yorkshire. His major publication prior to Tristram Shandy was the satire, A Political Romance (1759), aimed at conflicts of interest within York Minster. A posthumously published piece on the art of preaching, A Fragment in the Manner of Rabelais, appears to have been written in 1759. Sterne did not begin work on Tristram Shandy until he was 46 years old.
1762 – Sterne continued to struggle with his illness, and departed England for France in an effort to find a climate that would alleviate his suffering. Sterne was lucky to attach himself to a diplomatic party bound for Turin, as England and France were still adversaries in the Seven Years’ War. Sterne was gratified by his reception in France where reports of the genius of Tristram Shandy had made him a celebrity.
1768 – Sterne was gratified by his reception in France where reports of the genius of Tristram Shandy had made him a celebrity. Aspects of this trip to France were incorporated into Sterne’s second novel, A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, which was published at the beginning of 1768. The novel was written during a period in which Sterne was increasingly ill and weak. Less than a month after Sentimental Journey was published, early in 1768, Laurence Sterne’s strength failed him, and he died in his lodgings at 41 Old Bond Street on the 18th of March, at the age of 54. He was buried in the churchyard of St. George’s, Hanover Square.