Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889) was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous 20th-century fame established him among the leading Victorian poets. His experimental explorations in prosody (especially sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him as a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse.



Early life and family

Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in Stratford, East of London, as the first of nine children to Manley and Catherine (Smith) Hopkins. His father founded a marine insurance firm and, at one time, was the British consul general in Hawaii. He was also, for a time, the church warden at St John-at-Hampstead and a published writer whose works included A Philosopher's Stone and Other Poems (1843), Pietas Metrica (1849), and Spicelegium Poeticum, A Gathering of Verses by Manley Hopkins (1892). He reviewed poetry for The Times and wrote one novel. Catherine (Smith) Hopkins was the daughter of a London physician, particularly fond of music and of reading, especially German philosophy, literature and the novels of Dickens. Both parents were deeply religious High Church Anglicans. Catherine's sister, Maria Smith Giberne, taught her nephew Gerard to sketch. The interest was supported by his uncle, Edward Smith, his great-uncle, the professional artist Richard James Lane and many other family members. Hopkins would continue to sketch throughout his life, inspired, as an adult, by the work of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites.[1]

His siblings were greatly inspired by language, religion and the creative arts. Milicent (1849–1946) joined an Anglican sisterhood in 1878. Kate (1856–1933) would go on to help Hopkins publish the first edition of his poetry. Hopkins' youngest sister Grace (1857–1945) set many of his poems to music. Lionel (1854–1952) became a world-famous expert on archaic and colloquial Chinese. Arthur (1847–1930) and Everard (1860–1928) were both highly successful artists. Cyril (1846–1932) would join his father's insurance firm.[1]

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