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English bookseller
Born 1675 Died 1747

Edmund Curll was born in 1675 in the west of England. His parents were in humble circumstances. After being apprenticed to an Exeter bookseller he came to London and started business on his own account, advertising himself by a system of newspaper quarrels. His connection with the anonymously-published Court Poems in 1716 led to the long quarrel with Pope, who took his revenge by immortalizing Curll in the Dunciad.

Curll became notorious for his indecent publications, so much so that Curlicism was regarded as a synonym for literary indecency. In 1716 and again in 1721 he had to appear at the bar of the House of Lords for publishing matter concerning its members. In 1725 he was convicted of publishing obscene books, and fined in 1728 for publishing The Nun in her Smock and De Usu Flagrorum, while his Memories of John Ker of Kersland cost him an hour in the pillory.

When Curl in 1735 announced the forthcoming publication of Mr Pope's Literary Correspondence, his stock, at Pope's instigation, was seized. It has since been proved that the publication was really instigated by Pope, who wanted an excuse to print his letters, as he actually did (1737-1741). In his forty years of business Curll published a great variety of books, of which a very large number, fortunately, were quite free from Curlicisms. A list of his publications contains, indeed, 167 standard works. He died on the 11th of December 1747.

For Curll's relations with Pope, see the Life of Pope, by Sir Leslie Stephen in the English Men of Letters series.

Being the entry for CURLL, EDMUND in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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