Manley Hopkins was born on 28 July 1844, the eldest of eight children
in an artistic Anglican middle-class family in Stratford, Essex.
At Highgate School he was awarded several school prizes including
one for his poem the Escorial and a scholarship for Oxford University.
He gained a Double First Class degree at Balliol College.
He converted to Catholicism while at Oxford, this was primarily
as a result of his belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist
and also because of the issue of apostolic succession. He was
received into the Church of Rome on 21 October 1866 by Cardinal
Henry Newman. His controversial move was not welcomed by his parents,
and none of the family followed him.
His first job on leaving Oxford was a teaching post at the Oratory
in Birmingham. While there he was inspired to begin teaching himself
the violin. He also felt the call to enter the ministry and decided
to become a Jesuit. He took his vows of poverty, chastity and
obedience on 8 September 1870, then after several years of study
in London, Lancashire and Wales he was ordained a priest in September
1877 and took his final vows as a Jesuit in 1882.
Hopkins had a sensistive artistic nature which revealed itself
not only in his poetry, writings and drawings but also in his
ability to cope with his various roles as priest and teacher. His
health was not robust and much of his energy went into carrying
out his duties such as marking students exam papers which were
not only time consuming but also unrewarding.
Hopkins loved composing melodies and he set to music a number
of his own poems as well as other texts including friend's verse.
He also sung and played piano. The gramaphone was in an early
stage and lamentably no recordings exist of him reciting or singing
Gerard Manley Hopkins died on 8 June 1889, of typhoid fever at
St Stephen's Green, Dublin. His parents were at his deathbed when
he received the Viaticum and was heard to say "I am so happy,
so happy". His poems were first published by his friend Robert
Bridges in 1918. His mother Catherine died in 1920 at the age