restricted access Pope, Bathurst, and the Duchess of Buckingham


This essay contends that Alexander Pope wrote the short prose work The Character of Katharine, Duchess of Buckingham, published two years after Pope's death in 1746 but absent from modern editions. External and internal evidence is marshalled to illustrate how Pope wrote the Character in 1729 from materials supplied by the Duchess of Buckingham, including a recently discovered scribal copy of the Character among the duchess's papers, which preserves significant textual variants. Pope and the duchess later quarrelled after she tried to pay him for writing the Character, as though he was a hireling writer. This prompted Pope to write a new and hostile character of the duchess in An Epistle to a Lady and, after the duchess's death in 1743, to disown the Character as an original composition. A collated edition of the text is provided as an appendix.