Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Pope Alexander

Pope, Alexander (1688-1744), English poet, was born in Lombard Street of Roman Catholic parents. His father was a linen merchant, and his mother belonged to an old family. After the Revolution of 1688 they retired from business, and went to live on a small property in Windsor Forest. A priest attached to the family taught the boy Latin and Greek; and, being of a sickly and delicate nature, Alexander gave up most of his time to reading and writing, and was able to write verse at a very tender age. His first school was at Twyford, but he was afterwards sent to an establishment at Hyde Park Corner. His father gave him every encouragement to continue to write, and seemed to take pride in his son's proficiency in rhyme. For Dryden the boy had a great admiration, and counted it one of his happiest moments when he managed to see "glorious John." He began to study French and Italian literature, and continued to produce much poetry. His pastorals, which appeared in 1709, had been written much earlier. Through Sir William Trumbull he made the acquaintance of several of the leading writers of the day, notably Congreve, Gay, and Wycherley. His Essay on Criticism (1711) led to a slight friendship with Addison, which was not long in duration. The intimacy contracted with Swift remained unbroken till death. Though only twenty-five, he had already become well known, and his Rape of the Lock, Windsor Forest, and other works made him one of the greatest poets of his time. He wrote the prologue to Addison's Cato, and began to work on a translation of Homer which he had long meditated. Swift assisted him greatly with his influence, and the first volume was published in 1715, the other volumes appearing between that date and 1720. By this work, which is still read with pleasure, and is indeed an English classic, Pope is believed to have made at least £5,000. His father died in 1717, leaving little money to his son, and in the same year a collection of the latter's miscellaneous pieces appeared, and were much admired. He was now generally recognised as one of the great poets, but was always subject to attacks from the smaller fry of literature, who knew his sensitiveness to criticism and satire. In 1725 his version of the Odyssey came out, and from this work, in which he had been assisted by one or two other writers, he is supposed to have obtained several thousand pounds also. He had not forgotten the abuse of the Grub Street writers, and in 1728 appeared his scathing satire of the Bunciad, into which are introduced all his enemies, and also other writers who hardly deserved such treatment. In later editions he included others whose envy he had aroused or whom he disliked. His brilliant Epistles came out soon after the Bunciad, and in 1732 he published the first part of his famous Essay m Man, the rest following at a subsequent period. His health, which had always been bad, grew worse previous to 1740. and on May 30th, 1744, he died in the beautiful villa he had purchased at Twickenham. He was buried in the parish church of that place. Pope will always remain one of the most popular of English poets. Few writers have had his gift of clear expression and his epigrammatic brevity to such a degree, and his lines are usually so pointed and smart that they remain ia the memory and have in many cases become proverbs. In satirical power he has had few equals, and there is much verve and brightness in his descriptions. He holds a high rank, too, as a prose-writer, his Letters being among the best in the language.