Robert Bridges Biography


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Robert Seymour Bridges explicitly requested that no biography or biographical study should ever be made of him. He destroyed many of his personal papers, and his heirs have respected his wishes. Although there is no formal biography, the outlines of his life are well known. Bridges was the next-to-last child in a family of nine, born to comfortable landed gentry. Bridges went to Eton in 1854, where he showed an inclination toward the Oxford Movement. He matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, in 1863, where he was athletic and popular as an undergraduate. He rowed stroke in the Corpus Christi boat in 1867 but took only a gentleman’s second class degree in literae humaniores, the study of classical languages and the literature and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome. At Oxford, he became a close friend of the brilliant but somewhat eccentric Hopkins, who became one of the most important modernist poets in English. Bridges and Hopkins carried on an extensive correspondence after their undergraduate days; although Bridges destroyed his letters to Hopkins, Hopkins’s letters to Bridges have been published and provide a fascinating glimpse into the poetic workshop of these two talented men and their complicated personal relationship. Although Bridges was independently wealthy, he entered medical studies after he had completed the work for his B.A. degree at Oxford and earned his degree in medicine in 1874. He practiced for some time in...

(The entire section is 458 words.)