Alexander Pope Biography

Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope Biography and Literary Works

Date of Birth 21 May 1688
Birth Place London, England
Date of Death 30 May 1744
Cause of Death Tuberculosis
Burial Place Twickenham, England
Tombstone Inscription And Heav’n is Won by Violence of Song.
Age 56
Literary Age/Era Augustan Age / Early Enlightenment
Education Self-educated
Love Affair N/A
Matrimonial Life Unmarried
Spouse N/A
Children N/A
Major Events  in Life Contracted Tuberculosis (Pott’s disease) in his childhood, which led to his physical deformity
First Publication “Pastorals” (1709)
Last Publication “The Dunciad” (1742)
Posthumous Publication Various posthumous collections of his work have been published, including letters and previously unpublished verses
Famous Quotation “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”


Alexander Pope Biography 


Alexander Pope was born on May 21, 1688, in London, England. His parents were devout Catholics.

He was affected by a form of tuberculosis (Pott’s disease) in childhood, which affected his spine and resulted in his height of only 4’6″, a hunchback, and fragile health throughout his life.

In his mid-thirties, Pope moved to a villa at Twickenham, where he cultivated a renowned landscape garden. He never married and had no children. His closest relationships were primarily with his friends in literary and social circles.


Alexander Pope had several close friends and acquaintances who played significant roles in his life and literary career. Some notable individuals among his circle of friends include:

Jonathan Swift: Pope formed a close friendship with Jonathan Swift, the famous satirist, and author of “Gulliver’s Travels.” They collaborated on various literary projects, shared intellectual ideas, and corresponded extensively.

Joseph Addison: Pope had a friendly relationship with Joseph Addison, a prominent writer, essayist, and politician. They exchanged letters and collaborated on literary endeavours. Addison’s publication, “The Spectator,” also featured Pope’s work.

Robert Harley: Pope was acquainted with Robert Harley, a statesman who served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and later became Earl of Oxford. Harley supported Pope and his literary endeavours.

John Gay: Pope had a close friendship with John Gay, a fellow poet and playwright. They shared a similar satirical style and collaborated on the satirical poem “Three Hours After Marriage.”

Martha Blount: Martha Blount was Pope’s lifelong friend and confidante. She often accompanied Pope and was a source of support and comfort for him.

Their relationship sparked speculation about a romantic connection, although no evidence of a romantic relationship exists.


Due to the Test Acts, which banned Catholics from attending university and holding public office, Pope became largely self-educated. Despite the restriction, he excelled in languages and philosophy.

Literary Career

Pope began writing poetry young and published his first work, “Pastorals,” in 1709.

Pope translated Homer’s Iliad (published 1715-1720) and Odyssey (published 1725-1726) into English, making these classic texts accessible to English-speaking readers.

Towards the end of his life, Pope wrote “The Dunciad,” a controversial autobiographical work that attacked many of his contemporaries.

Pope was one of the first professional writers in England who could sustain a living on the income from their publications.


Alexander Pope’s Catholic faith significantly influenced his life and works. The Test Acts limited his access to education and public roles, leading him to choose the path of self-education and independent writing.

Despite the restrictions, he managed to maintain friendships with significant figures like Jonathan Swift and Robert Harley.

He faced significant criticism and controversy for his faith in predominantly Protestant England.


Pope’s work often stirred controversy due to its satirical style and criticism of societal norms. This drew backlash from various religious and political factions of his era.


Pope died on May 30, 1744. Despite his Catholic faith, he was laid to rest in the Anglican Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Twickenham, where he spent much of his adult life.


Alexander Pope Works

An Essay on Criticism (1711)
Genre: Didactic Poetry

Description: This poem is a didactic treatise on the principles of good literary criticism. Pope provides guidelines and rules for evaluating and improving one’s own writing, emphasizing the importance of balance, wit, and sound judgment in literary endeavours.

The Rape of the Lock (1712, revised 1714)
Genre: Mock-Heroic Poetry

Description: In this mock-heroic narrative poem, Pope humorously satirizes the triviality and social pretensions of high society by recounting the theft of a lock of hair from a young woman.

Through witty wordplay and elaborate descriptions, Pope elevates the seemingly inconsequential incident to the grandeur and epic scale of classical heroic literature.

Eloisa to Abelard (1717)
Genre: Epistolary Poetry

Description: Inspired by the tragic love affair between the renowned philosopher Peter Abelard and Heloise, his student and lover, this poetic epistle explores the themes of love, passion, and regret.

It is a heartfelt and emotional outpouring of Eloisa’s feelings, reflecting her conflicted emotions and longing for the lost joys of their forbidden relationship.

The Dunciad (1728, revised versions in 1730 and 1743)
Genre: Satirical Poetry

Description: The Dunciad is a satirical epic poem in which Pope criticizes the intellectual dullness and mediocrity of his contemporary writers, scholars, and pseudo-intellectuals.

The poem humorously presents a mock-heroic journey in which the goddess Dulness triumphs and the forces of wit and reason are ridiculed.

Essay on Man (1733-1734)
Genre: Philosophical Poetry

Description: Divided into four epistles, Essay on Man addresses the nature of humanity, the universe, and the role of reason and morality within the context of Enlightenment thought.

Pope explores profound philosophical questions, contemplating the existence of God, the nature of evil, and the limitations and potential of human understanding.

Verses to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady (1717)
Genre: Elegiac Poetry

Description: This mournful elegy is a reflection on the death of a young woman. Pope contemplates themes of beauty, love, and mortality, expressing his sorrow and offering poignant reflections on the fleeting nature of life and the pain of loss.