Alexander Pope was a Roman Catholic in an age when adherence to the "Old Faith" prevented him from receiving a university education, voting, or holding public office, and when the tax burden on Roman Catholics was sufficiently high to drive many families into bankruptcy.
At the age of 12, Pope was stricken with a disease that left him dwarfed, crippled, and in almost constant pain. He would educate himself and become one of the leading poets of his day.
Pope knew several languages. Before he was twelve he had picked up Latin and Greek from various tutors and at sundry schools, and acquired a similar knowledge of French and Italian later.
He died on May 30, 1744, at the age of 57. He was buried near the monument which he had raised to the memory of his father and mother at Twickenham.
The families concerned in the Rape of the Lock--the Fermors, Petres, and Carylls--were prominent members of intermarried Roman Catholic families, most of whom came within the circle of Pope's friends and acquaintances and to whom Pope considered his own family to belong.
Alexander Pope's disease was tuberculosis of the bone. Later in Pope's life, Sir Joshua Reynolds described him as "about four feet six high; very humpbacked and deformed."
Pope had numerous and well known supporters. He was a close friend of Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels.
Pope was harsh on critics in his Essay on Criticism. He advocates looking at a whole piece of work, instead of being swayed by some of its showier or faulty parts: “As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit, / T’ avoid great errors, must the less commit.”
Pope was a great admirer of other literary works. Among his favorites were Robinson Crusoe and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Pope translated Homer’s works into (then) modern times.
Homer had significant influence over Pope’s career. Pope’s mock-epic, The Rape of the Lock, parallel’s the Iliad in the style of heroic couplets.