Alexander Pope

ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)

Pope was the leading poet in the 18th century, becoming renowned for his hugely successful translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey the large income from which made him financially independent. A Roman Catholic, he was obliged by the then penal laws to live 10 miles outside London, and eventually settled in Twickenham. He lived upstream from Marble Hill in his celebrated villa (demolished 1807).

His satiric wit and Tory sympathies made him enemies, yet he enjoyed good relations with many great men. His expertise in gardening, and development of a more natural style, led many to seek his advice on garden design and to visit and imitate the grotto he erected at his villa.

Pope’s friendship with Henrietta Howard probably dates to about 1717. He became a close friend and admirer of Henrietta Howard when she moved to the neighbourhood, and he advised her on garden design. He was virtually caretaker of the estate during her absences at court, and took advantage of the house to entertain their literary friends, particularly Swift and Gay. Seemingly the two remained friends until about 1738, but the friendship cooled, and there is no record of correspondence between them from 1739.