Lemuel Gulliver is the protagonist of Swift's satire Gulliver's Travels. He was born in Nottinghamshire, England in approximately 1661 to a middle- or upper-middle-class family. He attended Emmanuel College at Cambridge University and was then apprenticed to a surgeon in London. Subsequently, he studied at the distinguished Dutch University of Leiden, which offered advanced courses in medicine. He had an excellent education and knew Latin, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Italian. His facility with languages is important to the plot, as it enables him to converse with the exotic new people he meets. His frequent travels and broad education suggest an intelligent and curious disposition.
He was married in 1688 to Miss Mary Burton, daughter of a prosperous London tradesman, and probably had children, although Swift does not give details about them. He seems clever and adaptable, able to handle himself in a wide range of situations, and open to new ideas. He is a prototypically cosmopolitan character who, rather than judging other societies from the narrow perspective of his own background, uses his knowledge of other cultures to see more clearly the flaws and idiosyncrasies of his own culture.