Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: British, Irish, & Commonwealth Poets)
Gerard Manley Hopkins was the first of eight children born to Manley Hopkins, a successful marine insurance agent who wrote poetry and technical books. The family was closely knit and artistic. Two of Hopkins’s brothers became professional artists, and Hopkins’s papers contain many pencil sketches showing his own talent for drawing. He was devoted to his youngest sister, Grace, who was an accomplished musician, and he tried to learn several musical instruments as well as counterpoint and musical composition. The family was devoutly Anglican in religion. When Hopkins was eight years old, they moved from the London suburb of Stratford (Essex) to the more fashionable and affluent Hampstead on the north edge of the city.
From 1854 to 1863, Hopkins attended Highgate Grammar School. Richard Watson Dixon, a young teacher there, later became one of Hopkins’s main literary associates. Hopkins studied Latin and Greek intensively, winning the Governor’s Gold Medal for Latin Verse, as well as the Headmaster’s Poetry Prize in 1860 for his English poem “The Escorial.” His school years seem to have been somewhat stormy, marked by the bittersweet joy of schoolboy friendships and the excitement of a keen mind mastering the intricacies of Greek, Latin, and English poetry. He was such a brilliant student that he won the Balliol College Exhibition, or scholarship prize. Balliol was reputed to be the leading college for classical studies at Oxford University in...
(The entire section is 1189 words.)
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on July 28, 1844, in Stratford, a suburb of London, England. His father, Manley, was a devout Anglican, a well-educated and successful author of marine handbooks and some poetry. At Oxford, Hopkins studied Greek and Latin and wrote poetry on nature and religious subjects. Among his teachers was Walter Pater, whose aesthetic and social theories influenced Hopkins; Hopkins’s friends included Robert Bridges, the poet who encouraged him throughout his career and eventually published his poems.
At Oxford, Hopkins came under the influence of the OxfordMovement to revitalize Anglicanism by returning to its Roman Catholic roots, and this influence led him to John Henry Newman. Hopkins read Newman’s autobiographical Apologia pro vita sua (1864), which described his conversion to Catholicism. Conversations with Newman led Hopkins to convert in 1866. Hopkins’s conversion radically changed his life, alienating him from his family and leading him into a religious vocation. After completing his B.A. at Oxford with honors, Hopkins decided to take holy orders as a Jesuit. To mark this change in his life, he burned copies of his poems, though he had asked Bridges to save the best of his work. For seven years, he wrote no poems, and for the rest of his life he remained unwilling to publish except when this was approved...
(The entire section is 461 words.)
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Gerard Manley Hopkins was a brilliant Christian poet. He produced a small number of finely crafted and moving poems in his lifetime but, for religious reasons, made little effort to publish them. When they were published twenty-nine years after his death by Robert Bridges, Hopkins quickly took a place of honor among modern poets. His radical and difficult experimentation with diction, sound, syntax, and rhythm made him especially attractive to early twentieth century poets. Though his poems seem difficult, they are accessible to patient readers who are willing to inform themselves about Hopkins’s traditional Christian beliefs. Indeed, his poems repay repeated study with new discoveries that make them seem increasingly rich and moving as one comes to know them better.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
In his lifetime few others than his teacher and confessor, R. W. Dixon, and his friend and correspondent Coventry Patmore knew of the genius Gerard Manley Hopkins. Given the nature of his life, however, it is perhaps astonishing that he or his poems ever became known.
A precocious child, Hopkins was reared and educated in Highgate, where one of the teachers, R. W. Dixon, may first have recognized the talents of the sensitive boy, although the correspondence between them did not begin until nearly twenty years later. Always introverted but an eager reader, Hopkins won the Headmaster’s Poetry Prize in 1860 and later a prize for “A Vision of Mermaids” (1862), which was reprinted in Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins accompanied by a William Blake-like sketch. His interest and ability in music, especially composition, were also manifest early.
From 1863 to 1867 Hopkins attended Oxford University, where he studied under Benjamin Jowett, tutored with Walter Pater, and met Robert Bridges, who later became poet laureate and a collector of Hopkins’s poems. There Hopkins was converted to Catholicism in 1866, at which time he reputedly burned all his poems; most of them must have been reproduced later, if content is any guide. He also studied under the later cardinal John Henry Newman in a Jesuit school in Birmingham.
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Biography (Poetry for Students)
Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on July 28, 1844, in Stratford, Essex, England, to Manley Hopkins, a marine insurance adjuster, and Catherine (Smith) Hopkins. He was the first of their nine children. His parents were devout High Church Anglicans. The family had a lively interest in religion and the creative arts. Manley published a volume of his poetry the year before Hopkins’s birth and frequently reviewed poetry; Catherine was a keen reader, and the young Hopkins and his siblings involved themselves in literature, music, and painting.
Stratford was becoming industrialized during Hopkins’s boyhood, and in 1852, the family moved to the then more rural area of Hampstead, north of the city of London, in the belief that it would provide a healthier environment.
Hopkins attended Highgate Grammar School from 1854 until 1863. He won the poetry prize and a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied from 1863 to 1867. At Oxford, he was strongly influenced by the aesthetic theories of the essayist and literary critic Walter Pater, who was one of his tutors, and of the art critic and social commentator John Ruskin. Literary influences included the Anglican poets George Herbert and Christina Rossetti. It was during his Oxford years that Hopkins began to question the religion in which he had been brought up. He came under the influence of John Henry Newman (later Cardinal Newman), one of the founders of the Oxford movement (also called...
(The entire section is 675 words.)