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University of Texas at Austin

Gerard Manley Hopkins:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Hopkins, Gerard Manley, 1844-1889
Title: Gerard Manley Hopkins Collection
Dates: 1838-1945, undated (bulk 1854-1918)
Extent: 1 box (.42 linear feet)
Abstract: The Gerard Manley Hopkins Collection includes manuscripts for four of Hopkins' poems, page proofs for the first edition of Poems (1918), edited by Robert Bridges, and a number of letters and drawings by Hopkins or members of the Hopkins family.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-02014
Language: English
Access: Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchases, 1959-1967 (R1126, R3217, R3352)
Processed by: Joan M. Sibley, 2010

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Gerard Manley Hopkins was born 28 July 1844 in Stratford, Essex, near London as the first of nine children of Manley and Catherine "Kate" (Smith) Hopkins. His father founded a marine insurance firm and was also a published poet, and his mother, who was the well-educated daughter of a London physician, was fond of music and reading. Both the Hopkins and Smith families included artists, and Gerard displayed the family skill in the detailed sketches that he made throughout his life.
Hopkins attended Cholmondeley Grammar School at Highgate from 1854 to 1863, where one of his friends was Ernest Hartley Coleridge, the grandson of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Hopkins' earliest extant poem, "The Escorial," dates from this period and won Hopkins the school's poetry prize. From 1863 to 1867, he studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford University, taking first-class degrees in both Classics and "Greats." During college, Hopkins befriended Robert Bridges, the later English poet laureate, who was important both to Hopkins' development as a poet and his later posthumous acclaim.
In 1866, Hopkins converted to Catholicism, greatly shocking his High Church Anglican family. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1868 (destroying the poetry he had written) and studied theology at St. Beuno's College in Wales from 1874 to 1877. The Welsh language and its poetry inspired him to write once again and also led to his poetical innovations and techniques such as "sprung rhythm."
After his ordination in 1877, Hopkins served variously as a missioner, preacher, and parish priest in Oxford and London, and in the manufacturing cities of Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. He also taught Latin and Greek at Stonyhurst College, Lancaster, and at University College, Dublin. His years in Ireland, marked by overwork and poor health, provoked a series of poems known as the "terrible sonnets," reflecting his melancholy dejection. He died of typhoid on June 8, 1889, in Dublin.
Because Hopkins put his responsibilities as a priest before his poetry, his literary output was slim; apart from a few poems, he was not published during his own lifetime. However his experiments in prosody (especially sprung rhythm), his concept of inscape, and his use of imagery established him as a daring innovator amongst his fellow Victorian poets, one whom poet and critic John Crowe Ransom called the first modern poet.


Bump, Jerome. "Gerard Manley Hopkins." Gale Literary Databases, Dictionary of Literary Biography, (accessed 30 September 2010).
Everett, Glen. "Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Brief Biography." The Victorian Web, (accessed 30 September 2010).
"Gerard Manley Hopkins." Wikipedia, (accessed 30 September 2010).
Hopkins Lives: An Exhibition and Catalogue, compiled and introduced by Carl Sutton; edited by Dave Oliphant; illustrations photographed by Patrick Keeley. Austin: Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1989.

Scope and Contents

The Gerard Manley Hopkins Collection includes manuscripts for four of Hopkins' poems, page proofs for the first edition of Poems (1918), edited by Robert Bridges, and a number of letters and drawings by Hopkins or members of the Hopkins family. The collection is organized in three series: I. Works by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1854-1918, undated; II. Letters by Gerard Manley Hopkins, circa 1861-1888; and III. Works and Letters by Others, 1838-1945, undated. This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been recataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.
Hopkins' poetry manuscripts date from 1877-1879 and include "In the Valley of the Elwy,""The Loss of the Eurydice" (fragment only), "The Sacrifice" (later "Morning, Midday, and Evening Sacrifice"), and "Spring." Hopkins' notations for spoken performance appear on both "In the Valley of the Elwy" and "Spring." Page proofs for the first printed volume of Hopkins' poems–published posthumously in 1918 under the editorship of English poet laureate Robert Bridges–are also present. The manuscript works in Series I. are augmented by a variety of pencil sketches by Hopkins that demonstrate the familial artistic bent and his skill as a draftsman. The drawings date as early as 1854 when Hopkins was ten years old and convey his observations of nature through small, yet minutely detailed, sketches of animals, plants, trees, and pastoral settings.
Series II. contains letters written circa 1861 to 1888 by Hopkins to the Irish poet and novelist Katharine Tynan, his brother Everard Hopkins, his sister Grace Hopkins, and his father Manley Hopkins. A letter to a professor Müncke dates from Hopkins' time at Highgate, 1854-1863. Typed transcripts of most of these letters are also present.
The bulk of the items that make up Series III., Works and Letters by Others, were created by members of the Hopkins and Smith families. These range from letters between his relations (among the correspondents are his father, mother, brothers Arthur and Lionel Charles, and sisters Grace and Kate) as well as drawings by various family members, and even a keepsake piece of unused lace worked for Queen Victoria's wedding dress in 1839 that was given to one of Hopkins' aunts. Family manuscripts include a poem by his brother Everard (dated 1900) as well as two juvenile stories (1854) and a program for an amateur entertainment (1863) in which Hopkins and other relations appeared.

Related Material

Additional Hopkins materials are located elsewhere in the Ransom Center. The Ernest Hartley Coleridge manuscripts collection holds seven letters written by Hopkins to Ernest Hartley Coleridge between 1862 and 1867. In the Photography Collection, the Hopkins Literary File Collection includes 17 photographs, chiefly portraits of Hopkins and members of his family. The Art Collection holds a religious icon with Virgin and Child that was owned by Hopkins and an additional four sketches by a Hopkins family member (items 85.41.1-4). The Vertical File Collection contains clippings about Hopkins and other printed ephemera, most notably several copies of his father's bookplate with the family coat of arms (flaming tower) and motto "Esse quam videri" ("It is better to be than to seem").
The collection of Gerard Manley Hopkins papers at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University includes drafts and copies of poems, and some personal papers.

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