Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ (1844-1889)
Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ (1844-1889)

Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ

Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on 28 July 1844 in East London. He attended Cholmeley Grammar School, Highgate, showing a gift for art, literature and music from his early years.  While a student at Balliol College, Oxford, he was received into the Catholic Church by John Henry Newman. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Roehampton in September 1868. Ordained in 1877, he became a teacher at Mount St Mary’s, Chesterfield.  His work as a minister and teacher took him to London, Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Stonyhurst College. It was during his time in the rural tranquility of St Beuno's that he found most encouragement and inspiration for the poetry for which he is now famous.

In 1884 was appointed to a fellowship at the Royal University in Dublin where he taught and examined in Latin and Greek.  He died of typhoid fever in  June 1889 aged just 44.

Encouraged by his Superiors, Hopkins continued to write music and verse, and to sketch, throughout much of his life, but his creativity remained something of a concern for him as he felt it prevented him from wholly devoting himself to God. It was only after his death when his friend, Robert Bridges the Poet Laureate, published a volume of Hopkins work, that his genius began to be recognised.  His experimental explorations in the structure of verse, and his use of imagery, established him as a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse. There is a plaque in his memory in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. 

For further information and a reflection on Hopkins take a look at our 2014 calendar site

For a retreat based on some of the poetry of Manley Hopkins see below or go to Pray as you go