Dr Johnson and Mr Pope: ‘an ornament from an inconvenience’

15 Mar 2018
6:00 pm
The event will end at approximately 9 pm.
Dr Johnson's House

A soirée in support of Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust

When the great poet and satirist Alexander Pope built his iconic villa at Twickenham, he had to overcome a significant inconvenience: his garden lay on the other side of a busy road. Johnson remarked, ‘as some men try to be proud of their defects, he extracted an ornament from an inconvenience, and vanity produced a grotto where necessity enforced a passage.’ Ornamenting his grotto with minerals proved an enduring source of pleasure, while the space also provided Pope an inspiring imaginative resource. The fans of Pope who flocked to visit his house and garden after his death so annoyed the owner, Baroness Howe, that she razed the villa to the ground in 1808. The grotto is the only tangible relic of Pope’s architectural legacy and is designated as a heritage asset ‘at risk’.

Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust is working to preserve the fabric of the site and increase access for a wider audience.  Supported by Radnor House School, which owns the building which now sits atop the grotto, and by grants from, among others, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Ironmongers’ Company and Historic England, the Trust needs to raise matching funds from donors.

Join us in a venue which embodies Dr Johnson’s personality for an event which celebrates the cultural passions of both writers. Enjoy lavish refreshments, while exploring the house where Johnson wrote his Dictionary. Learn from leading authorities, Philip Smallwood, Emrys Jones and Judith Hawley who will reveal the interconnections between these giants of English literature.

Professor Philip Smallwood, who has written extensively on Johnson, Pope and criticism, is Emeritus Professor of English at Birmingham City University and currently Visiting Fellow in the School of Humanities, University of Bristol. Dr Emrys Jones, an expert on Pope, on celebrity and social gatherings, is Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Kings College London.  Professor Judith Hawley, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Royal Holloway, University of London, is a Trustee of Pope's Grotto Preservation Trust and a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4.

Tickets are £60 and include a donation to the Trust, entry to Dr Johnson’s House after hours, talks, light refreshments, wine and other beverages and can be purchased from TicketSource.

Presented by Pope's Grotto Preservation Trust

Refresh map

Arts Richmond events

All Arts Richmond events >