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Mine Own Familiar Friend

The Relationship between Gerard Hopkins and Robert Bridges

William Robert Adamson

Mine Own Familiar Friend adds a new dimension to Hopkins Studies through its exploration of the complex and sometimes confounding friendship between the Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Hopkins and the editor of his first collected works, the poet and critic Robert Bridges. The divide between the two men is evident in almost every sphere of their lives, in their approach to poetry, reading, criticism and language. Based upon the primary texts of the letters, poetry and critical writings of the two men, the book is aimed at both an academic and a more generalist audience: Hopkins scholars and those readers of Hopkins’s poetry who may want to know more about this unique modernist poet whose collected works were only published, thanks to Bridges, some twenty-nine years after his death.

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Chapter 2 The Man from Petrograd: Bridges and Hopkins’s Collected Poems of 1918


I earnestly asked the Lord to watch over my compositions, not to preserve them from being lost or coming to nothing, for that I am very willing they should, but they might not harm me through the enmity or imprudence of any man […].

Gerard Hopkins Retreat Notes, 8 September 1883

All therefore that I think of doing is to keep my verses together […], that, is anyone shd. Like, they might be published after my death. And that again is unlikely, as well as remote.

Gerard Hopkins to Robert Bridges, 15 February 1879

In 1932, the first volume of Robert Bridges’s Collected Essay and Papers was completed, edited by his wife, Monika Bridges. Essay IX was on “The Poems of Emily Brontë”. Bridges ends his essay as follows:

That anyone should have kept Emily Brontë’s poems in his desk for years, and should then apologize for publishing them, and not take the trouble to print them correctly, is a piece of magnificent insouciance. The pity of it is that some of the blunders are likely to remain.1

At the end of the first week of September, 1917, Robert Bridges wrote to Mrs Manley Hopkins, Gerard Hopkins’s mother: “I have had lately some very authoritative appeals for the publication of all Gerard’s poetical remains. The ‘Spirit of Man’2 has had a wide sale, and his poems in it have commanded a good deal of attention.” He goes on to...

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