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Walpole, Horace

Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405156691.2011.x


Walpole, Horace (1717–1797), politician, art historian, and writer, was born in London, the son of the politician Sir Robert Walpole (1676–1745) and his wife Catherine, née Shorter (d. 1737). Walpole's father was, from the early 1720s, effectively the prime minister of Britain, and one of the most powerful men in Europe. Horace Walpole always expressed a defensive loyalty towards his father, who was faced with much abuse from eminent writers such as Alexander *Pope, but was completely different in character, being slight and retiring where his father was bluff and physically robust. Walpole was educated at Eton from 1727 to 1734, meeting Thomas *Gray and other friends, and then at King's College, Cambridge, which he left without taking a degree. In 1739 Walpole and Gray went on the Grand Tour to France and Italy; they quarreled at Reggio, for reasons not fully known, and returned home separately. While on the tour, Walpole was elected MP for Callington in Cornwall. In 1742 his father resigned office and became Earl of Orford. Walpole, whose future had been secured by the grant of various government sinecures, spoke in the House of Commons in defense of his father's conduct, which was under investigation, and published a satire on his enemies, The Lessons for the Day (1742). He contributed to Old England: or, the Broadbottom Journal , and in 1746 published an epilogue to Nicholas ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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