Hopkins, Gerard Manley

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Hopkins, Gerard Manley Gender: M
Hopkins, Gerard Manley
born on 28 July 1844 at 04:15 (= 04:15 AM )
Place Stratford, England, 51n33, 0e00
Timezone LMT m0e00 (is local mean time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Scholfield
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_leocol.18.gif 05°07' s_mo.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 16°03 Asc.s_leocol.18.gif 03°38'


English poet and Jesuit priest, one of the most individual of Victorian writers and one of the great unsung poets, virtually unknown in his lifetime. Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ornate poetry expresses a Victorian sentimentality, but also a startling musicality ahead of its time.

Hopkins was the eldest of nine children, the son of an Anglican, former British consul general in Hawaii and marine insurance adjuster who had published a volume of verse the year before his son’s birth. First showing his lifetime feel for words, the boy won a poetry prize when still in grammar school. He continued writing poetry while studying the classics at Oxford, which he attended on a grant in 1863. With the Oxford Movement renewing interest in the relationships between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism, he joined the Catholic Church, even while struggling with his sexual attractions toward young male friends at Oxford, as he wrote in his diaries of 1865.

Entering the Society of Jesus in 1868, he burned his youthful verses, determining "to write no more, as not belonging to my profession." He did retain a journal up to 1885 in which he kept a record of his vivid responses to nature and his philosophy of "inscape" that emphasized the individuality of every natural thing. In 1874, Hopkins began studying theology and Welsh at a College in North Wales, and resumed writing poetry.

Leaving Oxford in 1877 with a distinguished academic record, he decided to become a priest. Moved by the death of five Franciscan nuns in a shipwreck in 1875, he broke his seven-year silence to write the long poem "The Wreck of the Deutschland," thus realizing "the echo of a new rhythm" that had long haunted his ear. Adapting the rhythms of Welsh poetry to his own verse, he invented what he called "sprung rhythm." He also wrote a series of sonnets strikingly original in their richness of language and use of rhythm, including the remarkable "The Windhover," one of the most frequently analyzed of English poems.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1877, Hopkins served as parish priest in the slums of Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. He was appointed professor of Greek literature at University College, Dublin, in 1884, but did not find Ireland congenial; he was at that time overworked and unwell. He conveyed his sense of desolation in the "terrible sonnets," 1885, torn between his delight in the sensuous world and his powerful sense of religious vocation. While in Dublin, Hopkins also developed his talents for musical composition and drawing. He illustrated his journal with meticulously observed details of flowers, trees, and waves.

He continued to resist his friends’ encouragement to publish his poems. Conflicted, in a prolonged depression, his love of both God and the natural world coalesced when he lay dying of typhoid fever, with his last words, "I am happy, so happy."

He died 6/08/1889, 1:30 PM, Dublin, Ireland. In 1918, Robert Bridges, poet laureate, posthumously published the first collected edition of Hopkins poetry.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Social : Begin a program of study 1863 (Oxford)
  • Social : Joined group 1868 (Society of Jesus)
  • Social : Secret activity 1885 (Retained journal)
  • Social : Begin a program of study 1874 (Theology)
  • Social : End a program of study 1877 (Left Oxford)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1875 ("The Wreck of the Deutschland")
  • Work : New Career 1877 (Ordained priest)
  • Work : New Job 1884 (Professor of Greek Lit.)
  • Death by Disease 8 June 1889 at 1:30 PM in Dublin, Ireland (Typhoid fever, age 44)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Sy Scholfield quotes Norman White, "Hopkins: A Literary Biography," Oxford, Clarendon 1992, p.10


  • Vocation : Writers : Poet
  • Vocation : Religion : Ecclesiastics/ western (Jesuit priest)
  • Family : Childhood : Order of birth (First of nine)
  • Family : Childhood : Family large (Nine kids)
  • Personal : Religion/Spirituality : Western (Jesuit)
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Hobbies, games (Musical composition and drawing)
  • Vocation : Education : Teacher (Professor at University College)
  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Liver/Pancreas/Spleen (Typhoid fever, terminal)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Celibacy/ Minimal