John-Paul Flintoff

Is this the greatest ever specimen of crowdfunding?

Alexander Pope was that most unlikely thing: a poet who became very rich. And the way he became rich was by building a list of subscribers to his translation of Homer’s Iliad. If he were doing it today – we’d call this crowd-funding.

Just look at the list of his subscribers:

And that’s just the first page. Taken as a whole, the list reads like an early 18th century Who’s Who: one Royal Highness, seventeen dukes, three marquises, forty-nine earls, seven duchesses, one marchioness, and eight countesses – and a huge number of other influential figures. (On this page, as well as all that nobility, you can see the queen’s personal physician, Dr Arbuthnot, and the greatest literary figure of the day, Joseph Addison.)

Not bad, eh?

If you are keen to know how Pope managed this, you may possibly want to support my book, in which he plays a significant part. It’s set at exactly the time when he was drumming up subscribers – as I am now.

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