Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (May 21, 1688 - May 30, 1744) was a well known, but controversial, English poet and writer.

Born to a Catholic family in 1688 he was educated mostly outside "normal" schools and colleges as a result of the penal laws that were in force at the time to uphold the status of the established Church of England. He suffered numerous health problems, some associated with childhood tuberculosis which stunted his growth, he never grew beyond 1.37m (4ft 6in).

Although he had been writing poetry since the age of 12, his first major contribution to the literary world is considered to be An Essay on Criticism which was published in 1711 when he was 23. Other famous works include The Rape of the Lock (1712, revised 1714) as well as a six-volume translation of Homer's Iliad (1715-1726).

Pope's poetic work mirrored the cultural history of his country. Alexander Pope wrote pastoral poetry under Queen Anne; under George I, he translated the Iliad and the Odyssey (the latter with less critical success); in the third part of his writing, Pope directly addressed the major religious and intellectual problems of his time. Pope was the last major poet to write in traditional rhyming couplets; he developed the heroic couplet beyond that of any previous poet, and essentially exhausted its usefulness for later poets.

Pope wrote a famous poem about Sir Isaac Newton: "Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night; God said Let Newton be! and all was light."

Pope had a friend and ally in Jonathan Swift.

Concerning Pope as editor of Shakespeare, see Twelfth Night - a textual problem.


External Links