ALEXANDER POPE was born in London in 1688, the son of a well-to-do Roman Catholic cloth merchant. In 1709 he launched his career with a set of four pastorals, followed by An Essay on Criticism, Windsor Forest and the mock-epic Rape of the Lock, which cemented his reputation as the greatest poet of the age. Later works included the Dunciad, Epistles to Several Persons and the ambitious Essay on Man. Pope died in 1743. LEO DAMROSCH, Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature at Harvard University, is the author of eight books on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century literature and culture, including The Imaginative World of Alexander Pope, God's Plot and Man's Stories: Studies in the Fictional Imagination from Milton to Fielding, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius.