Fun Facts Friday: Gerard Manley Hopkins

July 28, 2023

Gerard Manley Hopkins (28 July, 1844 – 8 June, 1889) was an English religious poet and priest. He found fame after his death, and is now considered one of the great poets of the country’s Victorian era.

Fun Facts Friday: Gerard Manley Hopkins
Books by Gerard Manley Hopkins*

Fun facts about Gerard Manley Hopkins:

  1. Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in Stafford, Essex as the oldest of nine children. His father founded an insurance firm, and served as Hawaiian consul-general in London, and published his own poems. His mother, Catharine, loved to read German philosophy, and general literature; her favorite author was Charles Dickens.
  2. Initially, Mr. Hopkins wanted to be a painter. His aunt Maria Smith Giberne, taught him to sketch. He was supported by many members of his family including Richard James Lane, a professional artist.
  3. Gerard Manley Hopkins was sent to boarding school with he was 10 years old. At the school he attempted to put to test his theory that people drink more liquids than they need to and made a bet he could go without them for a week. That bet lasted until he collapsed during a drill with a black tongue.
    He also abstained from salt for a week.
  4. The young man attended Balliol College, Oxford where he studied the classics. He made lifelong contacts, including future Poet Laureate Robert Bridges who influenced him greatly.
  5. His youngest sister, Grace Hopkins, set many of his poems to music. Lionel Hopkins, another brother became a world famous expert on colloquial Chinese.
  6. When Mr. Hopkins decided to convert to Roman Catholicism, his Protestant family became estranged. He burned up all his poems and did not write any for years to come. Only 3 decades after his death, did his friend Robert Bridges, edited, and published them.
  7. The reason he stopped writing was because he felt that his interest in poetry didn’t allow him to wholly devote himself to religion.
  8. Gerard Manley Hopkins chose a life of poverty and austerity. The brilliant young man with first-class honors, failed his theology final exam, meaning that despite being an ordained man of the cloth, he would not progress in his chosen profession.
  9. In 1884, Mr. Hopkins became Professor Hopkins teaching Greek and Latin at University College Dublin. However, he was not a good teacher and along with isolation in Ireland (he didn’t like Dublin), and the heavy workload he became even more depressed.
  10. Mr. Hopkins died at the age of 44, after several years of bad health. Today’s scholars think he suffered from a bipolar disorder or chronic depression. His last words, however, were “I am so happy, I am so happy”.

Books by Gerard Manley Hopkins*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books


Gerard Manley Hopkins – Wikipedia

Gerard Manley Hopkins | British Poet & Jesuit Priest | Britannica

Gerard Manley Hopkins | Poetry Foundation

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Fun Facts Friday: Gerard Manley Hopkins
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Fun Facts Friday: Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins was an English religious poet and priest. He found fame after his death, and is considered one of the great poets of the Victorian era
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Man of la Book - A Bookish Blog
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