Alexander Pope was born on May 21, 1688 in London, England to a Catholic family. Pope was actually raised in a Protestant controlled area where, at the time, Catholics were not allowed to attend public schools or practice their religion. In the year 1700, he and his family moved away from London to an area called Windsor Forest. Because of the limitations of where he grew up, Pope had very little schooling, so instead he took to educating himself, and focused on poetry. When Pope was 12, he became severely ill, developing spinal tuberculosis. This disfigured Pope, stunting his growth. He actually never grew taller than 4 feet 6 inches, among the other side effects like spine curvature, causing him to wear a brace. This is significant because it made fitting into society difficult for Pope, which had an impact on his famous satirical poetry, not coincidentally aimed at weaknesses of people. Despite the hardship of Pope at an early age, he was a bright mind and had natural ability to write poetry. In 1709, 21 years old, his work Pastorals, poems in the Virgilian style, was published and brought him instant fame. Following this work, he published the Essay on Criticism, which was also very popular. In the mid-1720’s, Pope became a part of the “Scriblerus Club”. Its purpose was to “ridicule pretentious erudition and scholarly jargon through the person of a fictitious literary hack, Martinus Scribblers”. This is significant because it allowed Pope to interact with brilliant minds like Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Thomas Parnell and John Arbuthnot. It also led Pope to begin translating Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey, two of his most famous works. In the late 1720s Pope worked and published editions of Shakespeare. In his later years, he wrote An Essay on Man (1733-34). This is a philosophical essay written in heroic couplets of iambic pentameter. A unique piece that faces the questions about the ways God treats man. Alexander Pope died on May 30, 1744. He is now buried in the Twickenham Church in Greater London, England.
- Pope wrote An Essay on Man with the intention of it to be a large work, however he did not live to complete it.
- Pope’s disease was never cured, and he lived his life with asthma and violent headaches among other effects. Delirious in his later years. He described his life as a “long disease”.
- Pope never married.
- Pope’s father was a wealthy linen merchant, who after he passed left Pope with a significant amount of money.
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The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Scriblerus Club.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 13 Feb. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Scriblerus-Club.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “An Essay on Man.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 8 Feb. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/An-Essay-on-Man.