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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Poet and the Publisher

The Case of Alexander Pope, Esq., of Twickenham versus Edmund Curll, Bookseller in Grub Street

Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Poet and the Publisher

The Case of Alexander Pope, Esq., of Twickenham versus Edmund Curll, Bookseller in Grub Street

“Drawing on deep familiarity with the period and its personalities, Rogers has given us a witty and richly detailed account of the ongoing war between the greatest poet of the eighteenth century and its most scandalous publisher.”—Leo Damrosch, author of The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age
 
“What sets Rogers’s history apart is his ability to combine fastidious research with lucid, unpretentious prose. History buffs and literary-minded readers alike are in for a punchy, drama-filled treat.”—Publishers Weekly

The quarrel between the poet Alexander Pope and the publisher Edmund Curll has long been a notorious episode in the history of the book, when two remarkable figures with a gift for comedy and an immoderate dislike of each other clashed publicly and without restraint. However, it has never, until now, been chronicled in full. Ripe with the sights and smells of Hanoverian London, The Poet and Publisher details their vitriolic exchanges, drawing on previously unearthed pamphlets, newspaper articles, and advertisements, court and government records, and personal letters. The story of their battles in and out of print includes a poisoning, the pillory, numerous instances of fraud, and a landmark case in the history of copyright. The book is a forensic account of events both momentous and farcical, and it is indecently entertaining.

448 pages | 15 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: British and Irish History

Media Studies


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Reviews

"Rogers dives deep into eighteenth-century English poet, satirist, and translator Alexander Pope and his fraught relationship with the bookseller and publisher Edmund Curll, in this entertaining history. . . . Rogers’s account is chock-full of original literary and historical research, and is impressive in its scope. . . . What sets Rogers’s history apart is his ability to combine fastidious research with lucid, unpretentious prose. History buffs and literary-minded readers alike are in for a punchy, drama-filled treat."

Publishers Weekly

"Enlightening. . . . A highly detailed, literary tit for tat for fans of publishing and literary history."

Kirkus Reviews

Rogers’s lively new history, The Poet and the Publisher, presents Pope and Curll’s clashes as a long-running courtroom drama, or 'Pope v. Curll'... [giving] us a modern sense of a figure usually portrayed as ultra-traditional, revealing him instead as a writer whose concerns about self-image and the power of presentation might be thought close to our own."

New York Review of Books

"Rapid technological advance, a dark underworld of uncensored publishing, a threatened rupture with Scotland, even fears of a new outbreak of plague. Close scrutiny of the first few decades of the eighteenth century reveals some startling (and oddly reassuring) parallels with our own trying times. In his new book, Rogers, an expert on the writings of Alexander Pope and much else, resurrects what you might think was an obscure battle over copyright between Pope and the Grub Street bookseller and printer Edmund Curll. Their quarrel, though, becomes a prism through which Rogers captures the upheavals, hubbub, and stench, but, above all, the wit of that period, when words could have the explosive impact of hand grenades. . . . His book serves as a monument to them both, a literary delicacy in the spirit of Pope, dashed with more than a little of Curll’s sauce."

The Spectator

"Drawing on deep familiarity with the period and its personalities, Rogers has given us a witty and richly detailed account of the ongoing war between the greatest poet of the eighteenth century and its most scandalous publisher. Cleverly presented as the trial of Pope v. Curll, with scores of documents as 'exhibits' and with posterity as jury, the narrative fully justifies the author’s comment that 'Pope and Curll are both inherently funny.'"

Leo Damrosch, author "The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age"

"Everybody who has struggled to establish the facts, let alone the truth, in the fiendishly complicated maneuvers in the feud between Pope and Curll owes Rogers a debt of gratitude. His detective work is exhilarating. Decades of research into this 'improbable relationship' give him an authority beyond all others. Rogers lays out the case for and against as if in a court of law and the reader must decide. Was Curll a villain? Was Pope a double dealer? Were they well-matched ‘kissing cousins?’ Together the pair turned literature into news, using books as weapons in a war of words that has echoed down the ages. Rogers brings clarity, scholarship, and insight to the muddiest of stories and tells it with a verve and wit that even the combatants would surely admire."

Norma Clarke, Professor Emeritus, Kingston University, and author of “Queen of the Wits: A Life of Laetitia Pilkington”

"Pope versus Curll––a thirty-year war of words (and much else) between the cleverest satirist and the sleaziest publisher of the eighteenth century––was among the most vitriolic feuds in literary history. In this definitive, richly documented account, Rogers tells the story with his trademark blend of scholarly heft and analytic flair. Each chapter sheds new light on the ferocious yet oddly symbiotic relationship between the two antagonists, and on the larger implications––cultural,  political, religious, social––of their endlessly surprising duel."

Thomas Keymer, Chancellor Jackman Professor, University of Toronto, and editor of “The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 1”

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