'Mr pope's penmanship': Edmund curll, alexander pope, and rawlinson letters 90

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In 1726, Edmund Curll published an unauthorised but faithful volume of Pope's correspondence to Henry Cromwell in one of his Miscellanea. In response, Pope was forced to issue his own 'authorised' version of the letters; less textually faithful than Curll's 'pirated' version. The evidence to illuminate these sleights of hand lies in the bundle of letters now kept in MS Rawlinson Letters 90 in the Bodleian. Among them there is a small (and unrecorded) self-portrait of Pope under which there is a note that reads 'This figure is the delineation of Mr. Pope's Penmanship-E. Curll.' From the handwriting sample that this provides, I reread the manuscript and demonstrate that all the letters in the volume were marked up by Curll himself in preparation for their publication in 1726 and subsequently. This episode provides us with an unusual example of Pope favouring the preservation of his public image over the accuracy and presentation of his work in print.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-280
Number of pages22
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Library and Information Sciences


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