Alexander Pope (16881744)


  • Birth of Alexander Pope

    Alexander Pope is born to Edith Turner (1643–1733) and Alexander Pope senior (1646–1717), a Catholic linen merchant, at what was likely no. 2 Plough Court just off Lombard Street in the City of London.

  • Act for removing Papists and reputed Papists from London and Westminster

    London had seen growing anti-Catholic sentiments through the 1670s. The year Pope is born, Parliament passes "An Act for Amoving [removing] Papists and Reputed Papists from the Cities of London and Westminster, and Ten Miles distance from the same."

  • The Revolution of 1688 and the abdication of James II

    The policies of religious tolerance of King James II, including his 1687 declaration of indulgence, attempts to pressure Parliament into repealing anti-Catholic laws, and his use of royal powers to suspend the statutes, have met with increasing opposition by members of both Whig and Tory parties, who arre troubled by the king's Catholicism and his close ties with France. The crisis comes to a head in 1688 with the birth of the king's son James Francis Edward Stuart, on 10 June. The birth of a son displaces the succession to the throne by James' eldest child Mary, a Protestant and the wife of the king's nephew William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange), and threatens the establishment of a Roman Catholic dynasty in Great Britain. English Parliamentarians invite William to England. Concerned about an increasingly hostile France and eager to form an alliance against the country, William had wanted to intervene in British foreign policy since at least 1672: he invades England in November 1688. James finally flees to France on the 23rd of December, and William is crowned as William III of England with his wife Mary II of England on 11 April.

  • Move to Hammersmith

    By 1692, Alexander senior moves his family from Plough Court to the village of Hammersmith, about five miles west of the center of London. They likely remain there until moving to Binfield.

  • Arrival at Twyford School

    Little is known about Pope's time at Twyford, but according to Joseph Spence, Pope told him it lasted "only one year," as he had written "a satire on some faults of his master," and was "whipped and ill-used ... and taken from thence on that account." He is subsequently sent to Thomas Deane's school at Marylebeone, which he attends for two or three years.

  • Move to Binfield, in Windsor Forest

    Pope Senior had acquired the house at Binfield, Berkshire, in 1698. Alexander leaves Mr. Deane's school and moves there with his family around 1700. He continues his schooling at home, driven primarily by his own interests. As he told Spence, "When I had done with my priests, I took to reading by myself, for which I had a very great eagerness and enthusiasm, especially for poetry: and in a few years I had dipped into a great number of the English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets. This I did without any design but that of pleasing myself, and got the languages by hunting after the stories in the several poets I read, rather than read the books to get the languages. I followed every where as my fancy led me, and was like a boy gathering flowers in the woods and the fields just as they fall in his way. I still look upon these five or six years as the happiest part of my life."

  • Start of the War of the Spanish Succession

    The war leads to new fighting between France and Britain.

  • Accession of Queen Anne

    Upon William III's death on the 8th of March 1702, Anne peacefully accedes to the throne. She is crowned 23 April (St. George's Day).

  • Pope begins writing Pastorals

  • Pope meets Martha and Teresa Blount

    Pope meets the Blount sisters through their grandfather Anthony Englefield.

  • Pastorals: Pope's first appearance in print

    On the 2nd of May 1709 Jacob Tonson publishes the sixth and final volume of Poetical Miscellanies, largely consisting of "Pastorals" by Pope and Ambrose Phillips. Tonson had written to Pope asking to publish the Pastorals three years earlier, on 20 April 1706. David Foxon suggests this might indicate that Pope, "a particularly favoured author," held out for "publication on his own conditions" (Pope and the Eighteenth-Century Book Trade, 23).

  • Formation of Tory Government

    A Tory government is formed under the leadership of Robert Harley, appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer on 10 August 1710. Henry St. John (1st Viscount Bolingbroke), who would later become a close friend of Pope, is appointed Secretary of State (North) 21 September 1710.

  • An Essay on Criticism

    Published by William Lewis.

  • Rape of the Lock

    Pope's Rape of the Lock in two cantos is published anonymously by Bernard Lintot in Miscellaneous Poems and Translations.

  • Windsor Forest

    Pope's Windsor Forest is published by Bernard Lintot.

  • "Scriblerus Club" begins project on Martinus Scriblerus

    Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, and Thomas Parnell, and occasionally Robert Harley (now first Earl of Oxford) hold meetings to design The Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus

  • Rape of the Lock

    The Rape of the Lock in five cantos is published by Bernard Lintot.

  • Death of Queen Anne

    Queen Anne dies at Kensington Palace 1 August 1714 at the age of forty-nine. Claims to the throne of the Queen's half brother James Francis Edward Stuart (James II’s Catholic son) are ignored, and George I is proclaimed King. The Tory Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, is dismissed from office.

  • Temple of Fame

    Pope's Temple of Fame is published by Bernard Lintot.

  • Bolingbroke flees to France

    Fearing impeachment as a result of his role in peace negotiations with France and his intrigues with the Jacobites, Bolingbroke flees to France.

  • The Iliad

    First instalment of Pope's translation of The Iliad is published by Bernard Lintot.

  • Jacobite Rising of 1715

    The Earl of Mar raises the Stuart standard at Braemar, initiating an unsuccessful rebellion to return the British throne to the House of Stuart. A Jacobite army advances to Preston in Lancashire but is defeated there on 13 November. On the same day Mar fights an inconclusive battle with troops led by the Duke of Argyll at the Battle of Sheriffmuir. On 22 December, James Edward "the Pretender" lands at Peterhead, but returns to France in February 1716 as the troops desert and deplete the Jacobite army. Anti-Catholic legislation follows.

  • A Horrid and Barbarous Revenge by Poison

    In an effort to suppress publication of Court Poems by bookseller Edmund Curll, in which Curll suggests Pope is a contributor, Pope meets with Curll and Lintot at the Swan Tavern in Fleet Street and slips an emetic into Curll's wine. Pope promptly publishes A Full and True Account of a Horrid and Barbarous Revenge by Poison, on the Body of Mr. Edmund Curll, Bookseller; With a Faithful Copy of his Last Will and Testament (London: J. Roberts, J. Morphew, R. Burleigh, J. Baker, and S. Popping).

  • A Further Account of the Most Deplorable Condition of Mr. Edmund Curll

    Pope publishes a second pamphlet satirizing Curll, A Further Account of the Most Deplorable Condition of Mr. Edmund Curll, Bookseller. Since His Being Poison’d on the 28th of March. To be publish’d Weekly (London: printed, and sold by all the publishers, mercuries, and hawkers, within the bills of mortality).

  • The Iliad

    Remaining volumes of Pope's Iliad are published by Bernard Lintot.

  • Move to Chiswick

    Pope and his family are obliged to take their leave of Windsor Forest and move to Chiswick, in anticipation of "An Act for appointing Commissioners to inquire of the estates of certain traitors, and of Popish recusants, and of estates given to superstitious uses, in order to raise money out of them severally for the use of the public." Royal assent to the Commissioners Bill is given on 26 June.

  • Published attacks on Pope

    Curll advertises a poem by John Oldmixon, The Catholick Poet, along with a piece by the critic John Dennis, The True Character of Mr. Pope and his Writings, both emphasizing Pope’s religion and depicting him as a traitor.

  • Three Hours After Marriage

    John Gay collaborates with Pope and John Arbuthnot to write the comedy which, beginning 16 January, has a run of seven consecutive performances in Drury Lane Theatre. The play is published by Bernard Lintot on Monday, January 21, 1717.

  • Works

    The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope, the first volume of Pope's first major collection, is published by Bernard Lintot. Shortly after in 1717, Jacob Tonson's name appears on the title page along with Lintot's. The collection features new works including "A Discourse on Pastoral Poetry," "Verses to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady," and Eloisa to Abelard.

  • Death of Pope's father

    Pope's father Alexander Pope senior dies, aged seventy-five.

  • Move to Twickenham

    The success of the Iliad subscription sales allows Pope to move to Twickenham, a village to the west of London, in 1719. He leases cottages on a small plot of land on the banks of the Thames and settles here for the duration of his life, creating gardens and an underground grotto, as well as building a house in the Palladian style that would become known as Pope's villa.

  • Jacobite Rising of 1719

    The Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, another unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the ruling Hanoverian family, is supported by Spain which is at war with Britain and its allies in the Quadruple Alliance (England, France, the Dutch Republic, and Austria. The Rising begins in March with 5,000 soldiers setting sail from Spain intending to land in Scotland and raise the clans. Storms disperse and damage the ships, and  only 300 troops land in Scotland). Only about 1,000 clansmen are recruited and the Rising ends with the defeat of the Jacobites at Glenshiel 10 June 1719.

  • A Strange But True Relation

    Pope publishes the satirical pamphlet A Strange but True Relation How Edmund Curll, of Fleetstreet, Stationer, Out of an Extraordinary Desire of Lucre, went into Change Alley, and was Converted from the Christian Religion by certain Eminent Jews: And How he was Circumcis’d and Initiated into their Mysteries (1720). It is extant only in the Misellanies (1732).

  • South Sea Bubble bursts

    The rapid expansion in value of stock in the South Sea Company peaks before suddenly collapsing. The "bubble" begins to burst in October and November, resulting in panic selling and the ruin of many investors in the company.

  • Walpole comes to power

    Robert Walpole is appointed First Lord of the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Leader of the House of Commons, beginning his long tenure as de facto prime minister.

  • Atterbury Plot

    The Atterbury Plot, a Jacobite conspiracy led by Pope's friend Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, aimed at the restoration of the House of Stuart to the throne, is uncovered. Leading Jacobite sympathisers are arrested. Atterbury is arrested 24 August, confined in the Tower of London, and exiled from the country in 1723.

  • Works of Shakespear

    The Works of Shakespear. In Six Volumes. Collated and Corrected by the Former Editions, by Mr. Pope. is published by Jacob Tonson.

  • The Odyssey of Homer

    The first part of The Odyssey of Homer. Translated from the Greek. is published by Bernard Lintot. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 are dated 1725.

  • The Odyssey of Homer

    Volumes 4 and 5 of Pope's The Odyssey of Homer are published by Bernard Lintot.

  • Swift visits Pope at Twickenham

    Swift visits Pope at Twickenham after twelve years of withdrawal from England. He leaves Twickenham shortly after 27 July 1726.

  • Pope-Swift Miscellanies

    The first two volumes of Miscellanies are published by Benjamin Motte.

  • Pope-Swift Miscellanies

    Volume 3 of Miscellanies, including Pope's Peri Bathous: or, Martinus Scriblerus, his Treatise of the Art of Sinking in Poetry, is published by Benjamin Motte.

  • Dunciad in three books

    The Dunciad in three books is published anynymously, ostensibly by Anne Dodd in London, but possibly by Pope himself. James Bettenham, printer of the poem, enters a claim to copyright of the Dunciad in the Stationers' Register on 30 May 1728.

  • Dunciad Variorum

    The Dunciad with Notes Variorum and the Prolegomena of Scriblerus, published anonymously, is presented to George II by Sir Robert Walpole and goes on sale several weeks later. Pope has assigned copyright to the Earls of Burlington and of Oxford, and Lord Bathurst. 8 April Pope writes to his friend John Caryll that the booksellers are now obtaining copies of the Dunciad "by consent of Lord Bathurst."

  • Epistle to Burlington

    An Epistle to the Right Honourable Richard Earl of Burlington. Occasion’d by his Publishing Palladio’s Designs of the Baths, Arches, Theatres, &c. of Ancient Rome printed for Lawton Gilliver.

  • Pope-Swift Miscellanies

    Miscellanies. The Third Volume. published by Benjamin Motte and Lawton Gilliver.

  • Death of John Gay

    Gay dies after catching a fever and is buried 23 December in Westminster Abbey. The epitaph on his tomb is by Pope, followed by Gay's couplet, "Life's a jest; and all things show it. / I thought so once; but now I know it."

  • Imitations of Horace

    The first of Pope's Imitations is published.

  • Epistle to Bathurst

    Of the Use of Riches, an Epistle to the Right Honorable Allen Lord Bathurst. By Mr. Pope. is published by Lawton Gilliver.

  • An Essay on Man

    An Essay on Man. In Epistles to a Friend., epistles i–iii are published.

  • Death of Edith Pope

    Pope's mother dies at Twickenham, around 89 or 90 years old.

  • Epistle to Cobham

    An Epistle to the Right Honourable Richard Lord Visct. Cobham. By Mr. Pope. is published by Lawton Gilliver.

  • Essay on Man

    An Essay on Man. In Epistles to a Friend., epistle iv is published.

  • The Works

    The Works of Mr. Alexander Pope. Volume II. is published by Lawton Gilliver.

  • Epistle to Arbuthnot

    An Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot, addressing Arbuthnot as "Friend of my Life!," is published by Lawton Gilliver. 

  • Epistle to a Lady

    Of the Characters of Women: an Epistle to a Lady. By Mr. Pope. published by Lawton Gilliver.

  • Death of John Arbuthnot

    Pope's friend Arbuthnot dies at his house in Cork Street in Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly.

  • Letters of Mr. Alexander Pope

    The authorized Letters of Mr. Alexander Pope, And Several of his Friends. is published by J. Knapton, Lawton Gilliver, J. Brindley, and Robert Dodsley.

  • Death of Queen Caroline

    Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, dies. She is buried in Westminster Abbey on 17 December.

  • Imitations of Horace

    The Sixth Epistle of the First Book of Horace Imitated. By Mr. Pope. is published by Lawton Gilliver.

  • Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus

    Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus. By Dr. Arbuthnot and Mr. Pope., mostly written during the period of the Scriblerus Club, and later edited by Pope, is published by Robert Dodsley.

  • The New Dunciad

    The New Dunciad, fourth book of the Dunciad, is published by T. Cooper.

  • Pope's will

    Pope leaves Martha Blount £1000, his goods and chattels, and the income from his estate for life. Pope's half-sister Magdalen Rackett is enraged, and later becomes a source of derogatory stories about Martha.

  • Death of Alexander Pope

    Pope dies at Twickenham. He is buried next to his parents in Twickenham church on 5 June.

  • Death of Jonathan Swift

    Swift, who was officially declared of unsound mind in 1742, dies in Dublin.