Gerard Manley Hopkins
Gerard Manley Hopkins (28 July 1844 8 June 1889), was an English poet, Roman Catholic convert, and Jesuit priest, whose 20th-century fame established him posthumously among the leading Victorian poets. His experimental explorations in prosody (especially sprung rhythm) and his use of imagery established him as a daring innovator in a period of largely traditional verse.
He was educated at Highgate School and then Balliol College, Oxford, where he studied classics. Hopkins was an unusually sensitive student and poet, as witnessed by his class-notes and early poetic pieces. It was at Oxford that he forged a friendship with Robert Bridges (eventual Poet Laureate of England) which would be of importance in his development as a poet, and his posthumous acclaim.
Hopkins began his time in Oxford as a keen socialite and prolific poet, but he seemed to have alarmed himself with the changes in his behaviour that resulted, and he became more studious and began recording his sins in his diary. In particular, he found it hard to accept his sexuality; hence, he began to exercise strict self-control in regard to it, especially after he became a follower of Henry Parry Liddon and of Edward Pusey, the last, lingering member of the original Oxford Movement. It was during this time of intense scrupulosity that Hopkins seems to have begun confronting his strong homoerotic impulses. (See section below on Erotic influences)
In 1866, following the example of John Henry Newman, he converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. After his graduation in 1867 Hopkins was provided a teaching post by Newman, but the following year he decided to enter the priesthood, pausing only to visit Switzerland, which officially forbade Jesuits to enter.
Hopkins's attempts at poetry began at an early age, influenced by his father's own attempts at the art. His decision to become a Jesuit led him to burn much of his early poetry as he felt it incompatible with his...