The Poet and the Publisher

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

Pat Rogers

The Poet and the Publisher

Pat Rogers

Distributed for Reaktion Books

448 pages | 15 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9781789144161 Will Publish June 2021 For sale in North and South America only
“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.
Review Quotes
Publishers Weekly
"Alexander Pope, a poet, and Edmund Curll, a publisher, had a notoriously adversarial relationship in eighteenth-century London. This account highlights its absurdity and touches on its significance in the world of copyright."
Leo Damrosch, author "The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age"
"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.'"
Norma Clarke, Professor Emeritus, Kingston University, and author of “Queen of the Wits: A Life of Laetitia Pilkington”
"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."
Thomas Keymer, Chancellor Jackman Professor, University of Toronto, and editor of “The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 1”
"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."
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