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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 9 Grig and Grumble: Conclusion


I am ill to-day, but no matter for that as my spirits are good. And I want you too to “buck up”, as we used to say at school, about those jokes over which you write in so dudgeonous a spirit.

Gerard Hopkins to Robert Bridges, 29 April 1889

The last letter he wrote to me, I have, but very strangely it happened that the only two letters of his which I ever destroyed were the two which he wrote me preceding that. […] it was very like a sort of quarrel.

Robert Bridges to R. W. Dixon, 10 August 1889

Despite the undeniably adverse stance this book takes towards Robert Bridges in his relationship with Hopkins, it is freely admitted that were he able, Gerard would be the first to leap to the defence of his friend; loyalty and compassion were the nature of the man. But critics and readers in general have often wondered at the bond between two men so disparate in nature who, during the course of Hopkins’s all too short life, saw relatively little of each other, their time together being restricted to their student days at Oxford, the pre-conversion intervals spent with Bridges’s family in Rochdale, and their brief meetings in London. Besides the enduring mutual affection, what bound them was more a convergence of interests: their occupation with poetry and music, their interest in prosody and the technicalities of structure, and a deep interest in experimentation,...

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