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An ideal of erotic friendship is no chimera in these multiple epistles circulating through the posts. The Scriblerus club and its politico-literary agenda was their conscious pretext and was, no doubt, a common ground. It could not have started, let alone flourished as it did, without the interdependence each man felt on another.


When scrutinized from our contemporary perspective, and without the sin of anachronism, it must be interpreted as a different enterprise from the milieu of, for example, Horace Walpole and his all-male correspondents. They too were homoerotic, but their networks anticipate Victorian arrangements of all-male attachment rather than the unique blend of friendship and literary collaboration fostered by the Scriblerians. Collaboration is the key ingredient.

The Scriblerians were the first organized group in English literature to initiate a form of literary collaboration with clearly homosocial resonances. Later in the eighteenth century, the "Dilettanti" (young connoisseurs taking the Grand Tour who collected "marbles" abroad and retrieved them to England) followed in their footsteps.

The Scriblerian enterprise represents an activity lying somewhere between the purely hedonistic pleasures of the Augustan clubs (the dissipated Beefstakes, Macaronis, and Medmenham Monks) and the formal "colleges of authors" populated by "scheming projectors" of the type Swift ridiculed in Gulliver's Travels.

George S. Rousseau

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The United Kingdom has a rich and vibrant legacy of queer cultural expression despite a long history of severe legal sanctions against male-male sexual acts and other manifestations of sexual and gender deviance.

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The last of the Stuart monarchs, Anne, Queen of England, conducted romantic friendships with several women, including Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough.

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Throughout his life, Horace Walpole was devoted to other men, and his exploration of dysfunctional families in The Castle of Otranto and The Mysterious Mother probably stems from his own experience with a destructive father.

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Passionate friendships with women were essential to the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.


Ehrenpreis, Irvin. Swift: the Man, His Works, and the Age. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962-1983.

Foxe, Christopher. Locke and the Scriblerians: Identity and Consciousness in Early Eighteenth-Century Britain. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

Kerby-Miller, Charles, ed. Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1950.

Koestenbaum, Wayne. Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration. New York: Routledge, 1989.

Mack, Maynard. Alexander Pope: A Life. New York: Norton, 1986.

Nicolson, M. H., and G. S. Rousseau. This Long Disease, My Life: Alexander Pope and the Sciences. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Rousseau, G. S., and Pat Rogers, eds. The Enduring Legacy: Alexander Pope Tercentenary Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Sherburn, George, ed. The Correspondence of Alexander Pope. 5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956.

Williams, Carolyn D. Pope, Homer and Manliness. London: Routledge, 1992.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rousseau, George S.  
    Entry Title: Scriblerians  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated February 25, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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