About Martin Scribler

Martin Scribler Media commemorates the work and spirit of the Scriblerus Club, formed in 1713 by Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, and Thomas Parnell.

Swift, Pope, and Arbuthnott

The club met only sporadically, and its membership varied over the years. It took its name from its fictional founder, a hack writer named Martinus Scriblerus. Its focus was the writing of a biography of Scriblerus himself, a vehicle to satirize false erudition, ignorance, literary genres, and contemporary life (basically, anything that bugged them at the moment).

As with all writing (and committee work in general), the biography took time; so much time that it was never completed. A single volume, titled The Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus, was finally published in 1741. It contained tales of errant scholarship and dubious opinion, and an outline of future chapters that were never written. The memoir was penned years before its publication and foreshadowed, among other things, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Swift is said to have modelled Gulliver on his fellow Scriblerian John Arbuthnot.

In 1728 Alexander Pope published a satiric mock-heroic poem entitled The Dunciad, in which he anonymously savaged certain writers as dunces. Later, feuding with these writers and their defenders, Pope employed Martinus Scriblerus pseudonymously to undermine them by summarizing, deadpan, their various contradictions and faults. Thus the hack whom Pope had ridiculed morphed into his own hatchet man.

The Scriblerus Club survived until the deaths of Pope and Swift in 1744 and 1745 respectively. Yet Martin Scribler survived the club’s demise and found new breath in poet Richard Owen Cambridge’s mock epic poem Scribleriad, published in 1751. (The poem is full of literary in-jokes which are obscure today.) Over the years, variations on Scribler’s name have been employed as pseudonyms by various literary figures including Henry Fielding, George Crabbe, and (it is rumoured) a famed reclusive present-day postmodernist.

In an age of sarcasm, celebrity and short attention spans, Martin Scribler Media promotes the virtues of satire and parody, especially when they outlive their progenitors.

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