Alexander Pope

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Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) was an eighteenth-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson.[1] Pope is famous for his use of the heroic couplet.



Pope was born to Edith Pope (née Turner) (1643–1733) and Alexander Pope Senior. (1646–1717) a linen merchant of Plough Court, Lombard Street, London, who were both Catholics.[2] Pope's education was affected by the penal law in force at the time upholding the status of the established Church of England, which banned Catholics from teaching, attending a university, voting, or holding public office on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt, then went to Twyford School in about 1698–9.[2] He then went to two Catholic schools in London.[2] Such schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas.[3]

In 1700, pope's family moved to a small estate at Popeswood in Binfield, Berkshire, close to the royal Windsor Forest.[2] This was due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment and a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles (16 km) of either London or Westminster.[4] Pope would later describe the countryside around the house in his poem Windsor Forest. Pope's formal education ended at this time, and from then on he mostly educated himself by reading the works of classical writers such as the satirists Horace and Juvenal, the epic poets Homer and Virgil, as well as English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and John Dryden.[2] He also studied many languages and read works by English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets. After five years of study, Pope came into contact with figures from the London literary society such as William Wycherley, William Congreve, Samuel Garth, William Trumbull, and William Walsh.[2][3]

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