Alexander Pope Letters

Scope and Content

Comprises 18 letters from Alexander Pope to his friend, the lawyer and politician, William Fortescue, dated 1720-1743. The letters relate to the comings and goings of Pope's life, referring to mutual friends and acquaintances, and the work and health of both men.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744), poet, was the son of a Roman Catholic linen-draper from London. As a boy, Pope suffered from ill health, which affected his growth and normal physical development. He was largely self-educated and showed his precocious poetical aptitude at a young age, writing his Pastorals, when in his mid teens.

He was introduced to London life by Wycherley, and soon became involved in literary circles including Addison's group and later the Scriblerus Club, which included Swift, Gay and Arbuthot. Early works, which sealed his reputation, include Essay on Criticism(1711), Messiah(1712) and The Rape of the Lock in the same year, to which he later added more material and republished, in 1714.

His translations of Homer's Iliad(1715-20) and the Odyssey (1725-6) further added to his reputation and brought financial independence. In 1718, he moved to Twickenham with his mother, where he spent the rest of his life, devoting much time to his garden and grotto. He also spent a considerable amount of time during his later years working on the publication of his correspondence.

For further details of Pope's life and work, see details provided by the Oxford Companion to English Literature (1995).


Material is arranged in chronological order and incorporated into the General Collection of Bangor Manuscripts .

Access Information

Open to all users

Acquisition Information

Presented by Mrs R. Rathbone, Ivy Lodge.


Description compiled by Anne Lenaghan, March 2002.

Other Finding Aids

Item level word-processed list is available at the Archives Department of the University of Wales, Bangor. Reference numbers: General Collection of Bangor Manuscripts: 375

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright conditions apply. Reprographics are made at the discretion of the Archivist.


Letters in this collection were published in The Works of Alexander Pope, Letters, Volume IV, by John Wilson Croker, with introduction and notes by Whitwell Elwin and William John Courthope, London (1886).