Alexander Pope

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Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope was born in the City of London, England, on May 21, 1688, the year of the Glorious Revolution. He was the only child of Catholic parents. The Pope family lived on Lombard Street until Alexander was five years old. A portrait of him painted when he was about ten shows his face to be round, pretty, and of a fresh complexion. Later, an illness disfigured him. In the same year that he was born, an act of Parliament prohibited Catholics from living within ten miles of the City of London. This act became a major factor in determining the course of Pope's life.

Pope received his first education when he was about eight years old from a priest named John Banister. Later, he attended Twyford School near Winchester, a school for Catholic boys. At the age of twelve, Pope's father decided to move the family from London in order to conform to the act restricting Catholics.

Whitefield House and seventeen acres of land in Windsor Forest near Binfield became the new home. This move brought Pope's formal education to an end, and thereafter he educated himself. About 1704, at the age of sixteen and now suffering from the dreaded Pott's disease, a form of spinal tuberculosis, he thought he was about to die. His farewell to the Abbe Southcote caused him to secure the services of Dr. John Radcliffe, an eminent physician of the day, who successfully treated Pope. His advice to Pope, to exercise and ride each day, worked.

During these years of growing up at Binfield, the young poet was not only extending his reading and perfecting his poetry, he was also developing his literary acquaintances. He got to know many literary wits at Will's Coffee House, including William Trumbell, William Walsh, Samuel...