Dublin and Hopkins' Last Years

Gerard Manley Hopkins' career frustration

A further spell at Stonyhurst to teach Latin and Greek followed in 1882. Then came his final appointment in February 1884 as Fellow in Classics and Professor of Greek and Latin Literature at University College, Dublin.

The College had just been formed as a Catholic response to Trinity College, Dublin, a Protestant foundation. Money and accommodation were tight, and all Hopkins had to do the first year was to set and mark examination papers- a sort of glorified ‘A’-level chief examiner. This was a real drudgery to him, especially as he was extremely conscientious and would spend ages marking every script scrupulously, hundreds of them. He did actually do some teaching from his second year, but the students were often of poor quality, just needing to take his classes to be able to enter the church priesthood or gain a degree.

Gerard Manley Hopkins' isolation

The poems Hopkins wrote at this time reflect his frustration and exhaustion at this drudgery. Worse, he felt isolated from his friends in England. Although Ireland was mainly Catholic and welcomed the Jesuit order, as an Englishman he was viewed with some suspicion. He also felt the church should not be backing political moves for independence from England which might be seen to encourage violence and even treason, though he believed that independence for Ireland was the only solution for the country.

Gerard Manley Hopkins' depression and death

Hopkins managed occasional holidays back in England to see family and friends, but a steady depression of spirit seems to have been over him, though he pursued a number of interests, such as piano playing and drawing. He worked on a play for a while, but otherwise produced no more than three or four poems a year. He suffered from ill-health at times. In April 1889, he contracted typhoid, dying on June 8th of that year. He was buried in the Jesuit part of Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetic reputation

It was not till 1918 that Robert Bridges agreed to publish Hopkins’ poems. They were not well received at first, but they had a growing influence on modern poetry, as spearheaded by T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and others. Since then, his fame has been assured. From total obscurity, he is studied as widely as any other Victorian poet.

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