The Works of Alexander Pope
Author: Alexander PopePeter Jones
The Works 1717-1741
Of Alexander Pope
Printed In London by W. Bowyer, J. Wright For Bernard Lintot, Lawton Gilliver, J. Knapton, J. Brindley, C. Bathurst, and R. Dodsley
The Volumes are in Very Good Condition The volumes are rebacked retaining gilt-ruled calf boards and spines divided into seven gilt-stamped compartments by six raised bands, with a red morocco letter-piece in the second compartment from the top, with the leaf edges red speckled. Externally the board and pines are lightly scuffed in general, with some scuffing to the board edges and spine, with hinges repaired, and with board corners bumped a bit. Internally the leaves are generally clean and amply margined, with a notable wormhole in volume four from the front paste down into the initial leaves, and with mild toning and foxing in each volume.
The Volumes are Complete in All Respects With the folding portrait of Pope in volume I. See below for pagination & dimensions.
Alexander Pope is considered one of the greatest English poets of the eighteenth century. He is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations after Shakespeare. By 1717 at the young age of 29 Pope was active in publishing his greatest work, the translation of Homers Iliad. Pope had seen the need for a companion volume of his other works to complement his Homer set and released his Works of Mr. Alexander Pope Volume One in 1717. There was no Volume Two released as Pope had no more work to publish at that time. He was already a significant force in the English literary world, but, just as today, only venerated masters at the ends of their careers published “Collected Works.” Pope broke that mold in 1717.It would not be until 1735 that enough additional pieces had accumulated to warrant a Volume Two.
The first Edition of The Works printed for Subscribers was the large Quarto Edition. “I presume the quarto, as the chief edition, and companion to the subscription Iliad, was printed first.” Printed on “Royal Paper” of different thicknesses, it featured lavish ornamentation, to match the quality of the Homer sets. 750 copies were printed, 250 on Finer Paper. These Fine Paper copies were produced in two batches of 125, each batch on progressively thicker paper.
The work was also released to the General Public as a folio edition (1000 copies) that eliminated the elaborate ornamentation of the quarto. Finally, a run of 250 Large Folios were produced, “for rich clients” which included the ornamentation of the Quartos but with the forms altered to allow extra lines per page.
According to Griffith the Quarto was printed and released on June 3, 1717 to Subscribers, with the Folios printed next and released a bit later. Then between June 13 – 20 Tonson’s name was added to the publication line, making these volumes the First Edition, Second State. Tonson owned the copyright on several of Pope’s poems and this prompted the inclusion of his name. Tonson’s earliest advertising of The Works appeared in the Daily Courant of June 28 1717.
Pope’s own preference, from an aesthetic point of view, was the large quarto format, and it was these copies that were reserved for subscribers.
These First Edition Quarto copies were printed by W. Bowyer, for Bernard Lintot, and featured an ornament on the title page: triangular; two trumpets crossed through a lyre. The 250 large folios also featured the triangle ornament but the 1000 regular folios featured a basket as an ornament and are thus easy to tell apart.
Pagination & Dimensions
The volumes are paginated as follows: Vol. I; [xxxii], -435 . Vol. II; [viii], -76,[vi], -71-, -27-, -78, [ii], -87-, -14, -19-, -219. Vol. III; [xxxvi], -196, 189-307, [i]. Vol. IV; [i]-vi, , 84, *85-108, 85-173-, -312, -70, , -248, -266, -280, -257, . The volumes collate as follows: Vol. I; [X], a-c, B-3I4, 3K2 Vol. II; [A]-B,B-I4, K, K22, K21, A2, [X]1, G-I4, K2,B-C4, D2, *F1, F-K, A-L4, B3, B-2H4,. Vol. III; A,b-i, C-3A, 3A*-3B*, 3B-4H2. Vol. IV; A-d, A-X, Y*-2D, Y-2S2, 2T1, 2U-2X, 4F-4I, B-T, 3G-3T2, 3U1, *3U-*3X *2B-*2C, 2, [x]1, *4A-*4F2, [x]1, 3X-3Z, 3A2. Each volume measures about 28.5 cm. By 23.5 cm. By 4.5 cm. Volume four is somewhat smaller measuring 28.5 cm. By 20 cm. By 4 cm. Each leaf measures about 275 mm. By 215 mm. Volume four’s leaves measure 275 mm. By 180 mm.
Jonathan Fletcher Wordsworth, Critic, Scholar and descendant of William Wordsworth.