The Hopkins society: the making of a world-class poet (1).
Thus it is surprising that the society and journal dedicated to the reading and celebration of Gerard Manley Hopkins is in its twenty-eighth year. Having been a participant in the early years of the International Hopkins Association, a member of the founding Board of Scholars and an early contributor to The Hopkins Quarterly, provoked me to write this short, informal history of this notable literary engagement. Moreover, no one has told the full story of the contribution that both the Hopkins Society and the journal have made in establishing Hopkins's world-class literary status.
Of course, the Hopkins society and its journal were the work of individuals who took on the task of building Hopkins's literary reputation. As is often the case, the major work was done by one or two very dedicated lovers of Hopkins's writings. The central figures in this story are Fr. Alfred Thomas, S.J., and Richard F. Giles; the first, the founder of the English Hopkins Society (1969) and the second, the founder (with an associate, John R. Hopkins) of The Hopkins Quarterly in America (1974) and eventually the International Hopkins Association. These scholars were the prime movers in what might be called the Hopkins literary movement.
This is not to say each did not receive major assistance from Hopkins scholars and other dedicated readers. Among the earliest supporters and advisors were Mr. Tom Dunne and Professor Norman White helping Fr. Thomas, and Professor John Pick counseling and assisting Giles and Hopkins. Others soon joined their literary enterprise and made important contributions; however, these persons were the prime movers of what became a most significant literary and scholarly effort to raise Hopkins's poetic reputation to a world-class level.
In researching and writing the untold story of their achievements, I have become even more impressed with what they have done. Part of my REN 57.4 (Summer 2005) effort in writing this short history is not only to document their efforts, but to honor them for their dedication and accomplishment, as well as to thank them on behalf of all lovers of Hopkins's writings.
I never met Fr. Thomas in person, though we exchanged letters about his Hopkins's Research Bulletin and his lecture and sermon programs. Nor have I met Mr. Dunne, though I have used his major bibliography of Hopkins's scholarship. Norman White, a major Hopkins scholar and author of the current standard biography of Hopkins, is a friend and colleague to whom I directed some inquiry about his work with Thomas and the early days of the English Hopkins Society, but he declined, ! believe out of professional humility, to detail his significant contributions. White also contributed significantly to Giles's efforts to establish and maintain The Hopkins Quarterly.
Professor John Pick I knew well. He was my mentor while completing my MA at Marquette University where he was a distinguished teacher and author of a foundational book on Hopkins. When Pick died, Richard Giles acknowledged that it was Pick who was his tutor, guide, counselor, editorial advisor, and friend who gave the vital help he and Hopkins needed to start and maintain the journal he and Hopkins founded. This professional and scholarly generosity was characteristic of John Pick as a scholar and gentleman.
In writing this short, informal history I have attempted to stress the main movements of the activities and their character constituting the English Hopkins Society and the International Hopkins Society. I do not delve to any degree into the personal lives or individual professional accomplishments of the founders. My focus is always on the actions and activities they undertook to make their literary enterprises work towards their shared goal of making known Hopkins's writings to the world at large. Of course, there is a personal side to such ventures. Difficulties, frustrations, temporary failures, along with collisions with the complicating professional circumstances that surround any person's life, are always present. I am aware of some of these, some I am not. These substrata, which are part of any human accomplishment, I have attempted to omit or keep very much in the background of the major story of their extraordinary achievements.
Also I am fully aware that no writer moves to the highest ground of literary reputation without the responses of avid readers, professional and nonprofessional. Reader responses are vital to the scholarly apparatus that showcases a writer's work. This is especially true in Hopkins's case, for among the facets of the making of his literary reputation, none are more astonishing than the outpouring of scholarship, critique, and public attention contributed by his readers from all over the world--east and west. These readers contributed their critical insights, adulations, and praises that Thomas and Giles made a home for as they recorded readers' responses in bulletins, journals, lectures, sermons, symposia, exhibitions, and the major conferences that they organized and sponsored. I have made significant efforts to cite and record these contributions as an adjunct chapter of G.M. Hopkins's literary history.
There is no clear avenue to world-class literary status apart from the necessity of world-class talent and accomplishment. Even these do not always bring world renown. In writing this narrative, I have remained constantly surprised at the fragility of literary reputation. In 1950, when I started my own professional work on Hopkins, then considered a minor Victorian poet, late discovered, I never dreamed of any exalted future literary status for Hopkins. Yet it did happen in Hopkins's case. It is this process, leading to a rare level of literary greatness, that I have tried to document. No two artists' reputations are established in the same way. Indeed, few studies have been written that focus specifically on the making of a stellar literary reputation. It is my hope that readers will feel some of my wonder in reading it as I have in writing it. More important, I trust this short history fills a gap in the story of a great English poet's legacy.
THE first edition of Gerard Manley Hopkins's poetry was published in 1918. The edition (numbering 750 books) did not sell out until 1928. A few discerning critics like John Middleton Murray reviewed it in the Athenaeum and elsewhere, but many reviewers considered the book simply a long overdue commemoration of Robert Bridges's talented priest-friend. There was enough attention to warrant a new edition in 1930, perhaps provoked by I.A. Richards's attention to Hopkins in an article in The Dial (September 1926) and later in his influential book, Practical Criticism (1929). Father Gerald Lahey, a Jesuit scholar, published a short biography and appreciation of Hopkins (1930). It was not until 1948 that a new edition of the poems appeared.
Hopkins's prose writings (letters, notebooks, and papers) began to appear in the mid--to late 1930s. However, major critical attention was still very limited. During the war years of the forties, some important books by Hopkins specialists were published, such as Professor John Pick's Hopkins: Priest and Poet (1942) and William A.M. Peters's Gerard Manley Hopkins: An Essay Towards the Understanding of His Poetry. (1948). Professor W.H. Gardner published a foundational study, Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Study of Poetic Idiosyncrasy in Poetic Tradition (vol. 1, 1944) and the third edition of the poetry (1948).
However, in the main, it was not until the 1950s that Hopkins's poetic reputation began to grow significantly. During this period, when I was in graduate school in a major university, Hopkins's poetry was not read in many undergraduate or graduate classes. In 1955, there was not a single faculty member in the English Department who was, by academic specialty, able to serve on my dissertation committee to supervise and approve my study of Hopkins's writings. Survey editions of literature used in introductory classes had few or no Hopkins poems in them. It was only in the 1960s that Hopkins's literary reputation in university classes began to grow. When I published my first book, Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Study of His Ignatian Spirit (1960), my publisher demanded a subvention because of the lack of interest in the subject.
The road to international literary status takes many turns. The making of Hopkins's literary reputation was unique. Usually literary societies are formed after an author has achieved major recognition. In Hopkins's case, it was just the opposite. Hopkins's literary societies were formed well before his poetic reputation was fully achieved. It is this story that is told here.
THE founder of the first Hopkins Society, Alfred Thomas, was a member of the British Society of Jesus. He joined the Jesuits in 1960 when he was thirty-five years old. He tried to join earlier but was rejected because of his failing eyesight. When World War II began, the British military refused him on the same grounds. However, Fr. Thomas was not to be put oft. Thinking he was going blind, he learned Braille, began teaching in a parish school while continuing his education, eventually qualifying as a certificated teacher at age thirty. He continued teaching and pursuing advanced studies. In this five-year period, he completed his studies in English at Birkbeck College, securing a BA and MA. His eyes were holding up, so he again applied for the Society of Jesus and was accepted.
Despite being "the old man" in his entering class, fellow students found him to be very diligent as a student, possessing a large reserve of enthusiasm for the Jesuit novice's life. In practical matters, his greatest love was gardening, but in intellectual and literary matters, he was devoted to the life and writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins. One fellow Jesuit remembered a visit to St. Beuno's in Wales, where Hopkins wrote some of his most famous poems. Ft. Thomas could not wait for the journey into Wales to be over. When the train arrived at Rhly, he jumped off and ran to the coach which would deliver them. While there, Fr. Thomas spent most of his free time chasing down every Hopkins site.
Fr. Thomas was directed to do his noviceship at Roehampton. Though coming to the Jesuits as a late vocation, he went straight through his studies in philosophy and theology with his usual extraordinary diligence. He earned a doctoral degree in literature at London University in 1967, the same year he was ordained a Jesuit priest. Very likely it was when he was pursuing his doctorate that his interest in the writings of G.M. Hopkins deepened. At the completion of his Jesuit training, he went to St. Ignatius College to teach, retiring in 1983. It was during this period in academe and after that he became so very active in promoting Hopkins studies.
The seeds of Fr. Thomas's deepening academic interest in Hopkins began in earnest when he did his noviceship at the same place that Hopkins did his noviceship (1868-1870), Manresa House, Roehampton. There, among a scatter of books and papers left here and there over the years, Fr. Thomas came across two books associated with Hopkins that would form the basis of his doctoral thesis. The first was a journal kept by Hopkins while serving in the office of Porter during his noviceship, an appointment as senior novice that obliged him to keep a record of the daily life of fellow novices. He kept this Porter's journal from December 9, 1869, to October 26, 1871. Fr. Thomas also came across one of the texts read in the refectory that moved Hopkins to tears.
Fr. Anthony Bischoff, an American Jesuit Hopkins scholar, had run across the Porter's journal some fifteen years earlier, during his ground breaking researches for primary Hopkins sources. In a letter, he told Fr. Thomas of this discovery (January 30, 1963); Fr. Thomas had asked him for help in identifying the numerous persons named in the journal. Fr. Bischoff also told Fr. Thomas that he did not include the Porter's journal in his cataloguing of Hopkins's manuscripts he published in 1951-52 because he judged the journal to be a "private Jesuit document." However, he did not object to Fr. Thomas's use of it in his doctoral thesis. (2)
Later, Oxford University published (1969) Fr. Thomas's thesis as a book entitled, Hopkins: The Jesuit: The Years of Training. Fr. Philip Endean, S.J., himself a noted Hopkins scholar who knew Fr. Thomas at this time, described him as very excited by Hopkins's writings. He wrote of Fr. Thomas,
His work on Hopkins has the strengths and weaknesses of his strictly historical approach. Sometimes he could be comically literal-minded. I once found myself discussing The Windhover with him. He was quite obsessively certain that he had found the definitive solution to the problem of the meaning of "buckle." The word had two sources, if I remember correctly, one was a pub in Denbigh called "The Hawk and the Buckle," the other, a reference to falconry in the prose writing of Robert Southwell. More conventional approaches, grounded in straight forward senses of the word, didn't seem worthy of consideration. But equally, his book is a model of lucidity, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. It is, and will remain, valuable to students of Hopkins as a source of background information. (Letters and Notices 136-137)
During the period Fr. Thomas was revising his thesis for publication, he actively began to enter into further study and active promotion of an understanding and appreciation of Hopkins. His research and interest in Hopkins brought him into contact with active Hopkins scholars such as Humphry House, Mackenzie, Pick, Norman White, Tom Dunne, and descendants of Robert Bridges's family. He felt confident to call on some of them to help him found a Hopkins Society, an organization dedicated to sponsoring study and appreciation of Hopkins, priest and poet, not only in England but worldwide.
Fr. Thomas received sufficient support and encouragement, so he began recruiting a founding body of scholars and friends of Hopkins who were willing to give him aid in his endeavor. When Fr. Thomas, along with Dunne and White, convened an inaugural meeting of the Society on April 12, 1969, there were about fifty people present. Names of vice presidents were announced. They included four American scholars (A. Bischoff, H.M. McLuhan, J. Hillis Miller, W. Ong), six British scholars (C.C. Abbott, C. Day-Lewis, F.R. Leavis, N. St. John-Stevas, G. Storey, G. Tillotson), one Canadian (N. Mackenzie), one French scholar (Jean-George Ritz), two bishops (T. Huddleston and D. Matthew), the Headmaster of Highgate School (A.J.F. Doulton), the Master of Balliol College (J.F.C. Hill), the President of University College, Dublin (J.J. Hogan), and the Headmaster of Campion Hall, Oxford (E. Yarnold). Fr. Thomas had managed to obtain support from a distinguished group of religious and academic sponsors. Moreover, he had requests out to some of the vice presidents who could be called on to participate in the activities of the Society such as delivering papers, reading poems, and giving sermons--some of the programs the Society would eventually sponsor.
Fr. Thomas clearly wanted the most prestigious president he could find, so he asked the current Lord Bridges, Edward Bridges, Robert Bridges's son, to serve as President. Lord Bridges graciously accepted as honorary president. However, he died tour months after his acceptance, so Fr. Thomas asked his son, Thomas, to fill his father's place. The son refused on the grounds of being out of England so much, his health, and lack of knowledge about Hopkins. So Fr. Thomas arranged for Day-Lewis to become President.
Fr. Thomas's next step was inevitable. While the founding Society was British based, why not, through its global vice presidents, sponsor clones of the original Society anywhere in the world where interest might be engendered, thereby adding an international dimension to the English Society? To this end, Fr. Thomas expanded the reach of the founding Society by inviting more Hopkins scholars--Pick and Fr. Robert Boyle from the United States, Alan Heuser from Canada, James Milroy from Ireland, Peters from the Netherlands, and Peter Milward from Japan. He rounded up all the known Hopkins scholars he could enlist, thereby establishing a contingent who would serve as informants about Hopkins scholarship worldwide, and about which he would report in the Society's annual news bulletin.
The Society's aims were affirmed in the inaugural meeting. They were "to stimulate interest in the life and works of Gerard Manley Hopkins; to provide a forum for the discussion; and to put enthusiasts, researchers, and others, in touch with each other" (The Hopkins Research Bulletin, no. 1). The first activities planned to carry out these objectives were a weekend symposium, annual lectures, occasional papers to be read in some venue, a commemoration of the 125th anniversary of Hopkins's birth at Stratford, and annual sermons. Plans were discussed to begin to put out an annual publication to be called The Hopkins Research Bulletin, also to issue copies of the annual lectures, sermons, and papers sponsored by the Society. Longer projects were envisioned such as building a library of books and articles about Hopkins, perhaps commissioning musical settings of Hopkins's works, even placing commemorative plaques. All in all, in the inaugural meeting members of the first Hopkins Society put forth ambitious plans. This earnest dedication was evident in the inaugural year.
Under the leadership of Fr. Thomas, the Society put on an impressive program to mark the 125th anniversary of Hopkins's birth. In Stratford on October 18, 1969, the Society arranged, through the Stratford Research Library, an exhibition called "Stratford in the Nineteenth Century," noting the connection with the Hopkins family. The deputy borough librarian, a Mr. F. Sainsbury, made a presentation entitled, "The Site of Hopkins's Birthplace." The afternoon program involved a commemorative service in Stratford's St. John's parish church at which the Rt. Reverend Trevor Huddleston, C.R., Bishop of Stepney, preached the first annual Hopkins sermon. The assembled group then viewed the baptismal register of the parish showing the record of baptism of Hopkins on August 21, 1844.
In the following year, 1970, the first Hopkins Research Bulletin was issued in the spring. It set the format for The Bulletin for the next six years. Included in every issue was a record of "research in progress," an updating of recent publications about Hopkins including any new autograph discoveries, a Hopkins bibliography beginning with the year 1968, a miscellany of Hopkins items, news of the official programs of The Hopkins Society and/or Hopkins scholars. Sadly the news of scholars in Bulletins Nos. 1 and 2 consisted of obituaries for the first contingent of major figures associated with Hopkins: Lord Bridges, Gardner (who wrote one of the first comprehensive studies of Hopkins, edited the third edition of Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and co-edited the fourth edition with Mackenzie), the Reverend Lahey, S.J., (who wrote the first biography of Hopkins, thereby laying the groundwork for subsequent biographies), and Professor Geoffrey Tillotson (a famous Pope scholar whose scholarly connection with Hopkins came late in his career, though he directed many theses of students who became notable Hopkins scholars). The second Bulletin contained an obituary of Fr. Christopher Devlin, S.J., (editor of Hopkins's spiritual writings and a major commentary on J.D. Scotus's influence on Hopkins's theology and spirituality).
The first Bulletin was edited by White and Dunne. The second through the seventh, I suppose, were edited by Fr. Thomas. In any event, no editor is named. The Jesuit Mount Street headquarters in London, in care of the "the Hopkins secretariat," was designated as the address of The Hopkins Society. During the seven years of The Bulletin's publication, Fr. Thomas managed to find money to publish annually a thirty- to forty-page journal, each issue filled with information of all kinds about what was happening in the world of Hopkins activities. To maintain the richness of each issue, Fr. Thomas had to be in touch with scholars everywhere so as to document the progress of Hopkins events.
Fr. Thomas knew that Hopkins had yet to be accepted into that rare status of a "major" poet. At that time, no one else was undertaking such an enterprise. Fr. Thomas aptly recognized that, after the first growth of interest in Hopkins's writings in the 1930s, interest in Hopkins went dormant with some few exceptions until the end of World War II; there followed an inevitable lag in activity caused by the war's aftermath until the fifties and sixties. Sensing a renewed interest was occurring, Fr. Thomas obviously wished to contribute to this momentum. His ambitious efforts came at an important time and their realization, for the most part, became a major contribution to the enhancement of Hopkins's literary reputation.
In looking through Bulletins Nos. 2 through 7, one can trace the historical direction of Hopkins studies. In Bulletins No. 3 through 6, twelve new letters are discussed. This activity represented a kind of last look for pieces of Hopkins's literary remains yet to be found, an especially necessary effort given that Hopkins's papers were so inadequately retained and cared for over so many years. Also useful and important was the bibliography published in each bulletin. The compiler of the first two bibliographies (1968 and 1969) was Tom Dunne, who later published a major bibliography of Hopkins. Subsequently, Fr. Thomas worked with Ruth Seelhammer at Gonzaga University, who contributed to and helped edit the remaining five bibliographies (1970-1974). Many Hopkins scholars contributed to this effort.
This association with Seelhammer put Fr. Thomas in touch with a major Hopkins collection in the making, begun by Fr. Bischoff in 1950 while serving as Chair of English. Fr. Bischoff left Gonzaga in 1953 to pursue further Hopkins study. The continual growing of the collection of Hopkinsiana was left to Seelhammer, who became the resident curator, a post she served in for over forty years. In 1970, she published a listing of the Hopkins holdings, to that date numbering 3,301 items, Hopkins Collected at Gonzaga (Chicago: Loyola UP, 1970). Interestingly, Fr. Boyle, noted Hopkins and Joyce scholar, in a foreword to the book remarked of the "good news" that a Hopkins Society had been formed in England. This was, of course, Fr. Thomas's Society. Surely Fr. Thomas saw the scholarly value of connecting with the Gonzaga collection and Seelhammer, along with a lot of expert help to keep his bibliographic segment current.
Notable as well is the fact that Fr. Bischoff kept "feeding" the collection he had founded for some forty years, constantly enriching it, and when he died, he left his own huge research Hopkins collection to Gonzaga, thereby making the Gonzaga University Hopkins collection one of three major research centers of Hopkins's writings (G. M. Hopkins: An Inventory of the Bischoff Research Collection at Gonzaga University, ed. Stephanie Edwards Plowmen, English Literary Studies monograph series, No. 86, University of Victoria, 2001). Clearly, Fr. Thomas had made a vital connection to further his work. The Hopkins Society now became truly internationalized, for in 1972, Gonzaga became the American address for The Hopkins Society, a prelude to the formation of an American Hopkins Society in 1974 and the eventual transformation of The Hopkins Bulletin into The Hopkins Quarterly and the International Hopkins Association, details of which to come.
In Bulletin No. 4 (1973), Fr. Thomas published, besides the usual items (the notices of recent books, work in progress, the 1971 series of bibliography), a checklist of musical settings drawn up by Seelhammer, and an obituary for Abbott, the editor of the standard three volumes of Hopkins's letters. He also gave notices of a new adjunct Society, the formation of a new Hopkins Society in Japan and a translation of Hopkins's poetry and prose into Japanese in a five-volume edition. Notable as well, Fr. Thomas announced the appointment of a new President of The Hopkins Society in England, Professor Mackenzie of Queens' University, Canada, replacing Day-Lewis, who had died in May 1972.
Bulletin No. 5 (1974) continued the same pattern of items. Most notable was an obituary of the death of House, February 1955, the first editor of Hopkins's Notebooks and Papers. House died suddenly while working on a new edition of Hopkins papers (later completed by Graham Storey) and was writing a biography of the early life of Hopkins. One of the most interesting items Fr. Thomas published was a short article by Madeline House, House's widow, describing a visit she and her husband had made to the Garth, Halsmere, family home, after the death of the last Hopkins brother, Lionel.
She detailed how phenomenally replete the home was with Hopkinsiana. Here were seventy-four letters from Hopkins to his mother, Father Manley's letter to his son protesting his becoming a Catholic, thirty-four letters from Robert Bridges sent after Gerard's death to Kate Hopkins (Gerard's mother). There was also a collection of letters about Hopkins's last illness and condolences to his parents after his death. Perhaps one of the most interesting discoveries Mrs. House reported resulted from a perusal of the family library where were found family sketches, copies of music Hopkins composed, and a host of books, many of which likely Hopkins himself would have read as a youth. Such was the richness of information Fr. Thomas was garnering for his Hopkins Research Bulletin.
Bulletin No. 6 (1975) continued the pattern of former bulletins. Three new Hopkins letters were reported on, works in progress, the bibliography for 1973 evidencing an ever increasing production of Hopkins scholarship, notices of exhibitions, and the setting of Hopkins's poems into musical forms. Most interesting was the publication of the library register for books checked out by young Hopkins when he was being schooled at Highgate School, March 1862-November 1862, revealing how very early was Hopkins's classical bent in his studies.
Certainly the most significant report in The Bulletin was the announcement that on the anniversary of Hopkins's great ode, The Wreck of the Deutschland, Fr. Thomas had managed to commemorate this anniversary by obtaining permission to place a memorial tablet in England's famous "Poet's Corner," Westminster Abbey, an unveiling to be witnessed by a most distinguished cast of notables drawn from religious, political, and artistic life. This achievement took great effort on Fr. Thomas's part, involved much ready money and careful planning of arrangements for the ceremony. Fr. Thomas, in his notice, asked for monetary help to put on this wonderful event, which would prove to be a capstone of his dedication to the celebration of Hopkins, the Jesuit English poet as a world-class poet.
Bulletin No. 7 (1976) turned out to be distinctive for many reasons. First, it contained a full account of the celebration of the memorial for Hopkins in Westminster Abbey. The entire ceremony is detailed, beginning with the welcoming of the 600 attendees, including members of Hopkins's family and honored guests such as the Apostolic Delegate, three Roman Catholic bishops, three Benedictine abbots, representatives of the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, the United Reformed churches, and a large Jesuit contingent. The British government was represented by Lord Strabolgi and the current Lord Bridges was also in attendance, acknowledging Robert Bridges's association with Hopkins. Numerous Hopkins scholars and some poets, John Betjeman among others, were present. There was even a representation from Highgate, Hopkins's old school, including many masters and boys.
The ceremony began at twelve noon on Monday, December 8, 1975. It did not last long but was distinctive. The Dean of Westminster, Dr. Edward Carpenter, welcomed the assembly, noting that the event was taking place on the feast day of the Conception of the Virgin Mary, especially appropriate because in Hopkins's great ode, The Wreck of the Deutschland, he noted Mary's day. The commemoration was announced, the Duke of Norfolk unveiled the tablet (lying directly alongside the memorials to W.H. Auden and John Masefield, corner to corner with the tablets of T.S. Eliot, and in sight of the bust of Dryden). Fr. Thomas included in The Bulletin a photo of the Stone, following its unveiling. The noted actor, John Gielgud, read three of Hopkins's most well known poems, passages on the incarnation and fame from Hopkins's prose, and four stanzas from Hopkins's great ode. This presentation was followed by an address given by a Jesuit, Peter Levi, whose entire talk was reprinted in The Bulletin. Hopkins's great nephew, Leo Handley-Derry, representing the Hopkins family, laid a wreath on the tablet. Music for the event included J.S. Bach and Henry Purcell (Hopkins's favorite composer), and J.H. Newman's hymn, "Praise to the Holiest in the Height." All in all, the event was auspicious and was given wide coverage by the British national press.
Fr. Thomas, largely through his own efforts, had managed to give the highest tribute England had to offer to its poets, commemoration in Westminster Abbey. Moreover, Fr. Thomas's achievement accomplished many firsts in English literary culture: the first Roman Catholic poet to be so remembered since Dryden, the first priest and religious ever to be so honored, the greatest Jesuit poet in its history to be so celebrated, and the greatest poet London had produced in a hundred years. In this accomplishment, Fr. Thomas had to have experienced much satisfaction, justifiably, because he deserved the most credit for his fine efforts to deepen the respect for Hopkins's writings. In six years, he had added a new name to the gallery of literary "greats" in England.
Yet the climax to his endeavors possessed an especial ironical twist. Some time in 1974, two American doctoral candidates, Richard E Giles and John R. Hopkins, primarily because of their love of Hopkins's poetry, so their founding letter said, got the idea of starting an American literary journal called The Hopkins Quarterly. Neither of them had any experience in editing and publishing a journal with all of its professional and business aspects. Moreover, their doctoral dissertations were far and away from the nineteenth century and Victorian poetry. Hopkins was doing a dissertation on a linguistic topic and Giles on middle English poets. Were they two young, ambitious scholars envisioning dimly the possibility of giving themselves academic status by founding a journal in America about a poet they just happened to like? Improbable as it seemed, this was their intention.
Whatever their motivations, they were savvy fellows. They knew of The English Hopkins Society and probably thought that their interest in founding a Hopkins journal in the States would be welcomed by The English Hopkins contingent who would offer them help, contacts, membership lists, and advice. Their innocence in such academic affairs must have been dispelled quickly when they reached out for help. Apparently, they contacted Professor Mackenzie, President of The English Hopkins Society, and Fr. Thomas, its Executive Secretary, for advice, direction, and support. The lack of a positive response made the founding of The Hopkins Quarterly all the more zany.
I am privy to only some of their correspondence. My own speculation is that their youthfulness, their lack of expertise in Hopkins studies, the absence of any basic experience in managing and publishing a journal, perhaps their brash ambition, or all of these, were seen as promising an embarrassing failure and thus an insult to the momentum to establish Hopkins studies in America. In a sense, they were intruders to the Hopkins enterprise and thus unwelcome.
Part of the objection to them was that they were proposing a journal, at that time, in competition with the Hopkins Research Bulletin. Was it possible that at some point there was talk of replacing Fr. Thomas's Bulletin? Fr. Thomas was nearing his Westminster triumph in establishing Hopkins in England. It seems unlikely this was a possibility. What is clear is that from the President of the English Hopkins Society and its founder, there was grave reservation about their proposal. Both Mackenzie and Fr. Thomas conferred by mail about this new competitor into their academic realm.
Understandably, both had great doubts about the future of the publishing venture put before them by these young, inexperienced fellows. Their exchange of letters makes clear that neither Fr. Thomas nor Mackenzie was, to say the least, enthused about these brash young men. As they noted in their considerations, neither of the young scholars had done any significant work on Hopkins or published anything demonstrating any expert knowledge about Hopkins. Not only were their fields of doctoral study far out of Hopkins's literary milieu, but their doctoral work was still as yet uncompleted. Both Mackenzie and Fr. Thomas probably wondered why Pick, a distinguished Hopkins scholar himself, one of the English Society's vice presidents, and a long-standing supporter of Fr. Thomas's successful efforts, allowed himself to be cited by Giles as a reference for their proposed journal. Hopkins and Giles, in their notice of their intentions, stated that Pick, himself a successful founder and editor of the journal, Renascence, had offered to advise them in setting up the journal and vet the essays submitted for publication. Having known and studied with Pick, I do not think that he would have offered this support had he not seen in Giles and Hopkins some creative spark and willingness to carry out their enterprise. Through Pick, of course, other Hopkins scholars would soon be recruited for the new Hopkins quarterly. It is not too much to say that Pick was a vital catalyst in bringing about the eventual success of The Quarterly.
In Fr. Thomas's reply to Giles, he rejected an affiliation with The Hopkins Society in England and the request for his membership list, and no connection with them would be acknowledged. This rejection was based on a concurrence with the objections, Fr. Thomas noted, made by the President of The English Hopkins Society, Mackenzie. This rejection should not be seen as an effort to block Giles and Hopkins. The bare facts of the proposal, and those who sponsored it, gave grounds for serious doubts about their possibility of any success. Moreover, Fr. Thomas had worked very hard to achieve academic status for Hopkins in England and was not ready to trust the integrity of his efforts to these young men. He offered, as well, some timely and useful practical information about the hardships of supporting a journal.
In the last part of his letter, Fr. Thomas probably put fourth the most salient of his objections, namely, the economics of such scholarly ventures. He suggested that there was not enough support for multiple publications. Library committees in universities are chary to add periodicals to their library lists and he did not want to be competing with other Hopkins societies for money.
About the economic aspects of such ventures, Fr. Thomas was a veteran. When he started The Hopkins Society in England, he knew that he had to find tax-free donations. He decided, along with some Society vice presidents, to apply for a charitable trust status under British law. So in 1973 he wrote to a law firm to establish the Society as a charitable trust. This way he could make appeals to donors for non-taxable donations. However, as a member of the British Society of Jesuits, he could not do this on his own. He had to get permission from his own Provincial for such a legal undertaking. Thus he addressed the Provincial for permission. The Provincial, the Very Reverend Bernard Hall, S.J., was sympathetic and gave his permission, but in his detailed letter he made clear that The Hopkins Society was not a Jesuit institution and therefore had to operate independently and support itself in all financial matters. Left on his own, Fr. Thomas knew firsthand the challenge of starting and funding literary societies, which involved mustering academic and economic support, mounting programs, offering presentations, and editing and paying for a publication. He had good grounds to speculate that Giles and Hopkins were in over their heads.
Nevertheless, Giles and Hopkins published their first issue of The Hopkins Quarterly in April 1974, with an inserted announcement of its inauguration. Therefore, during the years 1974, 1975, and 1976, Fr. Thomas's The Hopkins Bulletin and The Hopkins Quarterly overlapped each other. Apparently these young editors seemed up to the task of publishing a quarterly that promised academic integrity.
Perhaps their brief track record converted Fr. Thomas. Running out of funds and very likely energy, and having no one to succeed him, he announced in Bulletin No. 7 (1976), ironically just at the height of his achievements, that this Bulletin would be the last. Production costs and postage, he noted, were becoming too high. So he gave over to the brash young men, who by this time had published nine issues comprising three volumes, each containing more and more essays by distinguished Hopkins scholars. With the demise of The Hopkins Research Bulletin, The Hopkins Society in England went the same way.
But much had been accomplished. It must be said in praise that Fr. Thomas, largely on his own (even with the early support of White and Dunne), mustered the first successful efforts to achieve national and international recognition of Hopkins as a world-class poet. Up until this time, his reputation was generally in literary limbo. Fr. Thomas had started to move Hopkins onto the world's literary stage. Fr. Thomas had done more for the English Jesuit poet than any English Jesuit since Fr. Lahey and Fr. Martin D'Arcy. Fr. Thomas's accomplishments deserve the highest recognition and gratitude. Those who love Hopkins owe him genuine admiration and profound gratitude.
WHEN Richard Giles and John Hopkins launched The Hopkins Quarterly, they were indeed still finishing their doctoral degrees at the University of South Carolina. In the first issue (vol. 1, no. 1), they put forth the editorial policy of the journal they were founding. The Quarterly would be "a self-sustaining, independent journal. To provide a venue where Hopkins Scholars can share their views into the work, life, and thought of Gerard Manley Hopkins." The editors admitted that they were not Hopkins scholars, that qualified referees would vet all articles in the journal, and that each issue would prove a forum for response and elaboration of the materials published in The Quarterly.
The question arises: Why would these fellows attempt to undertake a task that they were largely unprepared for and against all odds of their being successful? Despite my inquiries, neither of them has given me an answer to this question. We are left with only surmises. Mine is that these fellows really did deeply admire Hopkins's poetry, and they saw that there was no current forum in the American academic community for Hopkins studies. Yes, there was a real chance that they might fail, but so what? Their academic prospects would not have been fatally harmed if they started a journal about Hopkins and it went nowhere.
I believe that they also were aware that Hopkins criticism was still virgin scholarly territory. This was true, especially in America. A growing number of scholars were already working on Hopkins, and if they were provided a professional place to publish, they would respond. Certainly, as a young scholar, that was how I felt when I was first contacted about the journal. Finally, I suspect that Giles and Hopkins made a scholarly judgment, based on their own responses to Hopkins's writings, that his creative genius possessed an artistic and literary appeal to twentieth century readers and scholars much more broad than Hopkins's original literary niche--a minor Victorian religious poet who wrote poems too obscure and narrow in focus even for professional literary critics to attend to them. They also knew that Fr. Thomas's success in his efforts to expand the study of Hopkins had laid the groundwork for a wider appreciation of Hopkins's literary art. They were not starting, by any means, at ground zero. Whether any of these surmises about their motives are valid, I do not know. What is so is that these two young men had a vision about increasing further the knowledge and appreciation of Hopkins's writings and the faith that their vision could be realized in some concrete way. Indeed, they were right about Hopkins's greater poetic destiny.
Again it certainly must have surprised Mackenzie and Fr. Thomas to learn that a noted Hopkins scholar like Pick was the aboriginal consultant for the founding of The Quarterly, as the editors made clear in their introduction in the first issue. Whether Pick's enthusiasm and support caused some friction between him and Mackenzie and Fr. Thomas, I do not know. It is hard to believe that it did not. As it turned out, Fr. Thomas probably realized that his fine efforts for Hopkins had come to an end and that his work would remain a lively heritage in the two young Americans' efforts to perpetuate Hopkins studies. Academic territories are rarely negotiated with full grace.
The first issue of The Quarterly was dedicated to Pick to honor him for his resolute support. Pick, my master's degree mentor at Marquette University, was a very open-minded and generous academic and thus, not unsurprisingly, responsive to supporting young scholars, especially those interested in Hopkins. A marvelous teacher, especially of Hopkins, Pick was a tireless sponsor of the ambitions of young scholars. Many of his students have gone on to notable careers in teaching and scholarship. Just how Giles and Hopkins made his acquaintance, I do not know. Perhaps it was through his ground-breaking book, Gerard Manley Hopkins: Priest and Poet (1942), a book that opened the door to Hopkins studies in America. It is my judgment that it was Pick who set Giles and Hopkins on their way.
The editors also acknowledged that twenty Hopkins scholars (I was among them largely because of my respect for Pick) had expressed approval and support, including six Jesuit scholars. Giles affirmed later, in his "'in memoriam" for Pick (vol. 8, no. 3, Fall 1981), that it was Pick who, upon initial contact, replied "promptly, graciously, and realistically." Clearly Pick became their principal consultant through steady letter contact for over two years leading up to the first issue of The Quarterly. Moreover, he contributed regularly to The Quarterly's pages and thereafter offered constant encouragement and advice.
Interestingly, Giles had never met Pick in person. Had Giles known Pick personally, he would have found him a charming man in every way and, goes without saying, very devoted to the writings of Hopkins. Pick was for several decades the founding editor of Renascence: A Critical Journal of Letters. Giles lamented missing this personal friendship; he also regreted that he had no way truly to reward him for his generous and knowledgeable support. Pick's help was clearly invaluable. Giles's "In Memoriam" is really a deeply personal thank you and farewell from afar.
The first Quarterly issue, a fifty-five page publication, opened appropriately with an essay by Edward Cohen entitled, "The Present State of Hopkins Scholarship." Cohen laid out the patterns of current Hopkins scholarship in the context of the earliest scholarship, discussed some of the most current publications, some of mine included, and on the whole, provided a first-rate descriptive analysis of the status of Hopkins studies. Four scholarly essays made up the body of the issue, each by competent Hopkins scholars (B. Gunter; F.X. Shea, S.J.; B. Litzinger; and A. Sulloway); a book review was included and also a call for items for the Forum to be in each issue. The format was plain but serviceable. It was evident that the young editors were living up to their ambitions. Hopkins scholarship now had a distinctive place in the panoply of literary scholarship in America.
When Fr. Thomas saw this issue, he must have realized that these young men were, despite his demurs, promising successors to his originating efforts. It must have been apparent to him that The Quarterly was the happy child of his fathering and would likely grow in the direction that Hopkins study should and would go. It probably was not easy for him. I have no definite information how he managed this change of fortune. Surely he must have realized that his contributions were groundbreaking and fruitful. Nevertheless, it must have been difficult for him to let go of his Hopkins enterprise.
Gathering momentum, issues 2 and 3 appeared. In the second issue, the editors expressed gratitude for the widely approving response from many Hopkins scholars who openly expressed their optimism for the future of The Quarterly. In issue three, long articles were published including a two-part essay of mine. Would they publish another year? Indeed they would. Material was so plentiful they published a double issue. Contributors were Hopkins scholars such as James Milroy; Norman Weyand, S.J.; Jerome Bump; and Norman White. (It will be remembered that White was one of the founding committee members of Fr. Thomas's Hopkins Society in England and one of the co-editors of the first Hopkins Research Bulletin. White certainly became a major supporter and collaborator with the young editors, especially useful after Pick had died. He became, perhaps, the central consultor assisting Giles and Hopkins throughout the life of the journal. It must have been extremely valuable to have had such a prominent Hopkins scholar as friend and advisor.)
It was now clear that Giles and Hopkins had guessed right. Hopkins scholarship was burgeoning and needed an outlet. The Quarterly would be sustained with plentiful scholarship and would endure as long as funds could be found. The only change in the fourth issue of The Quarterly was an alteration in the masthead. Giles was now based at the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto. He was doing the major job of managing, editing, and publishing The Quarterly, for the most part single-handedly. His academic status was heavily influenced by his role with The Quarterly. He continued to move where he could obtain some assistance in managing and paying for The Quarterly, a predicament that caused him to relocate several times during his academic career. This was clearly a major personal sacrifice to have made.
In the first published Forum, there appeared a notice of the formation of the North Texas Chapter of The Hopkins Society, a society wishing to affiliate. The Chapter Director was Professor Carl Sutton, who sustained this Texas Hopkins Society for many years, devoting much energy and commitment to Hopkins's interests until his untimely death in a car accident in 1989. During the hundred-year anniversary of Hopkins's death, he put together an extensive exhibition of Hopkinsiana at the University of Texas in Austin at the Harry Ransom Humanities Center. Scholars from around the world attended the opening. Sutton compiled a publication of the exhibition entitled, Hopkins Lives: An Exhibition and Catalogue published by the Center. More about this major conference later.
Sutton's establishment of a Texas Chapter continued a trend begun in the Fr. Thomas era. A Japan Hopkins Society had been established during Fr. Thomas's years under the aegis of the Hopkins scholar, Peter Milward, S.J., Ruth Seelhammer's bibliographical affiliation at Gonzaga University with Fr. Thomas's English Hopkins Society became an American Chapter. Now this one in Texas continued a trend in Hopkins studies. Later a Center for Hopkins Studies would be established in India. As we shall see, these "children" would become the future.
The Quarterly (vol. 2, no. 3) was much thinner than earlier publications and late in coming for which the editors apologized. In addition to scarce funds, part of the reason for the issue's slimness might have been that Giles again had moved, this time to the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario. Notable was the lead essay by Norman Mackenzie, the last President of The English Hopkins Society. His piece was an extended treatment of a short segment of an unpublished manuscript of Hopkins, "On Duty." He had published a version in The Hopkins Research Bulletin (no. 7, 1976). Like Fr. Thomas, as noted earlier, Mackenzie originally had been highly skeptical of the literary and editorial capacities of Giles and Hopkins, but apparently he had some change of heart about them and The Hopkins Quarterly, a welcome change from a major editor of Hopkins's poetry. In this issue, scholars also were beginning to respond in the Forum section to previously published articles in The Quarterly.
The next issue (vol. 3, no. 1, April 1976) to appear designated Giles's address in Guelph as the central address for The Quarterly. This issue returned to its single number size. New scholars began to appear and the editors included a book review section. Giles himself wrote a very full estimate of Dunne's comprehensive bibliography of Hopkins (Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1976). Dunne, it will be remembered, was one of the original associates of Fr. Thomas in his founding of The Hopkins Society in England. The review notably revealed how far Giles had come in his grasp of the frontiers of Hopkins scholarship.
In the January 1977 issue of The Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 3), the editors published their first Hopkins bibliography, of which they gave notice in the previous issue. The complier was Susan I. Schultz. It was a chronological listing dated 1967, as well as a selective bibliography (Tom Dunne's bibliography listed items up to 1969-1970). The editors noted that it should be viewed as an addendum to Cohen's published bibliography (Works and Criticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1969). Some entries pre-date 1967 as missed entries in Cohen's listing. Moreover, it overlapped the bibliographies published by Fr. Thomas and Ruth Seelhammer (1976-1979). The editors were aware of the bibliographic overlap with The Hopkins Research Bulletin. They refer to it in an editor's note, remarking that their efforts were meant to be supplementary. They also announced that beginning in April 1978, The Quarterly would begin to publish its own annual bibliography. The editors, having an arrangement with Ruth Seelhammer, notified those who submitted copies of entries for The Hopkins Quarterly bibliography that they would have their submissions forwarded to the Gonzaga Hopkins Collection. The editors were clearly carrying on the program begun by Fr. Thomas and Ruth Seelhammer.
Volume 5 of The Hopkins Quarterly (no. 3, Fall 1978) was given over entirely to the publishing of a Hopkins bibliography, 1974-1977. Now carrying the full brunt of editing the journal by himself, Giles received much help in this issue from Ruth Seelhammer, Curator of the Hopkins Collection at Gonzaga. Giles noted, the bibliography was still incomplete, though it was as current and comprehensive as they could manage. Giles had to give up his desire to make the bibliography a critical list, quite understandably, for the writings on Hopkins were pouring forth and there was no way he could manage an annotated bibliography, given his editorial resources.
This narration of the new Hopkins Society in America, and its publication of The Hopkins Quarterly, has to be interrupted at this juncture because both the Society and its journal became reorganized by going international. Of course, there is more to tell later about The Quarterly, but now its story unfolds in a new and different setting.
DESPITE continuing budget problems making the printing and mailing of The Quarterly still troublesome, Giles managed to stay afloat. He inserted in Volume 5 (no. 1, Spring 1978) a letter announcing to subscribers that he was moving to a spring and summer mailing, two issues in each mailing. He reiterated his satisfaction that he had been able to keep The Hopkins Quarterly an independent journal. He also inserted a short notice on the last page informing readers that he had undertaken a new parallel venture, the founding of an international Hopkins association. He called on Hopkins scholars for participation and urged members to serve on a board of advisors. He noted that the organization would publish a newsletter. The first International Hopkins Association (IHA) Newsletter issue was dated Summer 1979. In it Giles wrote a lead editorial laying out his goals and aspirations. Noting how he had been so heartened by the support for The Hopkins Quarterly, he considered that the next step in furthering the study of Hopkins's writings was to give this interest a greater international scope. He declared that an international association ought to be in place to foster this enthusiasm. In this Newsletter no. 1, he acknowledged that it was not an opportune time to undertake such an effort. However, he was convinced that since Hopkins's writings are "some of the finest works of art in the English language" and that he was now being ranked among the greatest poets, he deserved this attention and celebration. He noted he was not alone in this conviction; he had heard from scholars all over the world who were eager to be part of a worldwide Hopkins community. Moreover, such an organization would contribute greatly to introduce Hopkins even more widely to world readers. He noted that many thought it unlikely that he and John Hopkins would succeed with The Hopkins Quarterly. Indeed it had been difficult, but they had learned much about such ventures. So with this experience and confidence, he announced that this Newsletter marked the founding of the International Hopkins Association (IHA). The remainder of the Newsletter was a listing of an IHA Board of Scholars, comprised of twenty-one of the best known Hopkins scholars. He generously included my name. This announcement was followed by notices of works in progress by scholars from the world at large.
When I was asked to be on the board of the IHA by Giles, I readily accepted. I was convinced Giles and Hopkins were going to succeed, taking Fr. Thomas's beginnings to a full realization. My contacts with Giles were professionally managed; I respected his ideals, and agreed with his goals. I judged The Quarterly to have had a good beginning. I saw improvements as each volume was published, and was encouraged that, together with the flow of Hopkins scholarship that was coming forth, Hopkins's status as a major poet was being established. And I was joining major scholars from all over the world in this literary venture of putting a great poet on the world's stage.
In Newsletter no. 2 (Winter 1980), Giles declared the specific goals of the IHA: they were the publishing of a monograph series, participating in academic meetings, sponsoring symposia, offering members special prices from publishers of books about Hopkins, and forming an international community of readers and students of Hopkins. Giles had published but five volumes of The Quarterly when he launched this second venture. The rest of the Newsletter offered what would turn out be the regular pattern of each issue: notes on works in progress, books especially for sale to members, and a series of news items about various Hopkins activities. In adding this academic venue, Giles had truly followed Fr. Thomas's founding efforts by putting in place a much larger organizational effort to further the reading and study of Hopkins.
It might be asked: Why this effort when there were already several adjunct Hopkins societies? Giles's answer was that there was no general organizational structure in place through which to coordinate and carry out world-wide efforts. In effect, Giles was attempting to pull together existent societies into an alliance, as well as, hopefully, encouraging more effort in other parts of the world. These fellows were very ambitious.
Over the years, Giles and Hopkins carried out most of their plans. They had the world's Hopkins scholars publishing in The Hopkins Quarterly. Now they had moved on towards greater activity and achievement. In the IHA Newsletter no. 3 (Summer 1980), Giles enthusiastically announced that IHA and The Hopkins Quarterly would now be based at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. He also announced a major Hopkins conference in Canada, "Gerard Manley Hopkins in His Age," to take place March 5-6, 1981, a conference that would bring together many Hopkins scholars from Canada, the United States, England, and Ireland. Newsletter no. 4 (Winter 1981) gave notice of new members appointed to the board of scholars, information about new books on Hopkins, lectures to be given by noted Hopkins scholars, and a partial list of papers to be offered at the Waterloo Conference.
Volumes 4 through 7 of The Hopkins Quarterly published solid Hopkins scholarship, along with scholar dialogues in the Forum section. In these volumes, as their tables of contents reveal, The Hopkins Society was now indeed international: scholars were published from Holland, Japan, Ireland, England, along with nine American scholars.
In keeping with another one of the IHA's goals, the first monograph's appearance was announced. It was, in fact, two monographs in one publication (sixty-eight total pages in length). The first, by Leo M. van Noppen, was entitled "The Critical Reception of Gerard Manley Hopkins in the Netherlands and Flanders," and the second, "Hopkins in France," by R. Gallet. Van Noppen's section was in English and Gallet's in French. No doubt monograph no. 1 was a fine beginning for this latest activity by the IHA.
In Volume 5 (no. 3), Giles published another bibliography, compiled with much assistance from Ruth Seelhammer, now a very active and professional Hopkins bibliographer, entitled, "A Hopkins Bibliography, 1974-1977" and another in Volume 6 (no. 3) for 1978. She also published, in Volume 7 (no. 4), a focused bibliography entitled, "Hopkins and His Circle: A Bibliography for 1979." Another goal of the IHA was being now fully realized. Giles kept calling for information on new entries. As they stacked up, he happily announced in the IHA Newsletter no. 10 (Fall 1988) that Pamela Palmer of Memphis State University would become the journal's official bibliographer, a post she still retains. Surely this assignment lifted from Giles the heavy load of preparing the text for future bibliographies.
Conferences continued to receive a good deal of Giles's attention. In his first effort, he teamed the IHA and The Hopkins Quarterly with the English departments of the Canadian universities and the English Department of Wilfrid Laurier, University, Waterloo to sponsor, as announced, a major conference in 1981. The Conference proved to be very successful, both in its drawing a wide range of major Hopkins scholars and the richness of the scholarly agenda. I attended this conference, this first major American academic conference on Hopkins. It was a watershed event in that, for the first time, large numbers of the most active Hopkins scholars from Canada and America came together to discuss their studies of Hopkins. As important, we came to know each other in some personal way, so that later, when we would encounter each other's work, there was a face and a self attached to it. Scholarship is, in its performance, a solitary activity. Moving to a scholarly community studying Hopkins made future encounters more open, our exchanges much richer. This meeting was the first of more to come.
An IHA awards program for distinguished Hopkins scholars was announced in the Winter 1981 IHA Newsletter, no. 4. The first two awards were given to Elizabeth Schneider and Norman Mackenzie. Each was given a written accolade in The Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 8, no. 1, Spring 1981). Mackenzie's was formally given his at the Waterloo Conference. In this activity, Giles accomplished another goal of IHA. The giving of an IHA Hopkins award to Mackenzie involved a bit of historical irony. It was he who offered the strongest reservations to Ft. Thomas when he heard that the young upstarts, Giles and John Hopkins, intended to start a quarterly of Hopkins studies. Now things had changed. Mackenzie certainly deserved the honor, as did Giles the satisfaction in giving it. A second group of IHA awards, thus a double awarding, was given to French Hopkins scholars Pierre Leyris and Jean-George Ritz. The notice of such awards was reported by Rene Gallet in The Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 9, no. 1, Spring 1982). In this activity as well, the IHA was truly international.
Hopkins scholars were not only writing for The Hopkins Quarterly, they were reading it. Instancing this is the review of Norman Mackenzie's handbook, A Reader's Guide to Gerard Manley Hopkins (1981). Giles, true to his editorial openness to all Hopkins's scholars, known and lesser known, offered the review to Margaret Patterson. Patterson had done a lengthy unpublished dissertation entitled, "A Hopkins Handbook." She wrote a long review entitled, "Diamond Chips," published in The Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 9, no. 1, Spring 1982), in which she noted that she thought there were significant omissions of important early poems in the Guide, amounting to a fragmentation of the Hopkins canon; she also complained about a kind of snippet treatment of some very notable early poems such as "Heaven-Haven," among others, and she raised some issues of dating poems, resulting, in her view, in an erroneous editing of the Hopkins canon. She also sharply disputed Mackenzie's unqualified admiration of Robert Bridges's friendship with Hopkins.
When Patterson's review came out, Mackenzie, understandably, must have been surprised, perhaps even chagrined. He surely expected, from a reviewer in The Hopkins Quarterly, a laudatory review. After all, he was then the principal editor of Hopkins's poems. Given his scholarly reputation, he well might have dismissed the review as misinformed and less than objective. Or he might have patiently offered some corrective responses and let the matter go. His scholarly reputation was not in question.
However, he replied in The Quarterly Forum a year later (vol. 10, no. 1, Spring 1983) with a full defense of his Guide. Mackenzie's opening sentence set the deprecatory tone of his reply by noting Patterson was relying too much on her "1970 unpublished dissertation." In her statements about the editing of the Hopkins canon, Mackenzie implied that this was but one instance of her "dated" responses to his Guide. He offered a lengthy, full defense in such detail that an objective reader might have wondered whether Patterson had indeed raised some salient critical questions that such a major text scholar of Hopkins needed to answer. On the other hand, Mackenzie was a very meticulous text scholar. Undoubtedly he wished to set the record straight regarding his views of the issues Patterson had raised. There are places in the rebuttal that demonstrated that Patterson had touched some critical biases in the Guide, such as the true nature of Robert Bridges's complex and troubled friendship with Hopkins. There were three other respondents to the review, each defending Mackenzie in general; none addressed any of the canonical issues or critical text readings; indeed, they were more like letters of reference. Patterson's attack on Robert Bridges was generally decried. One writer was condescending and insulting. Patterson also wrote a defending piece in the Forum in which she generally reaffirmed her review.
Among the Board of Scholars there was some talk of asking for more input to the selection of reviewers. However, Giles was undaunted by his role as editor. From the perspective of background, Giles might well have thought Patterson a good choice and never even considered the possible competitive character of such an assignment. In the end, Giles must have felt quite positive about the controversy, for The Quarterly Forum was alive with dialogue. This book review episode did cause Giles to suffer some diminished standing with two or three of the Board of Scholars, including the author of the Guide. In the beginning, Giles had to experience the difficult path of an inexperienced founding editor; now he was encountering the troubles of a successful editor in the wilds of academia.
When Giles published Volume 10 of The Hopkins Quarterly (no. 1, Summer 1983), he wrote an editor's note reflecting on his editorial journey. He remembered how, ten years before, he and John Hopkins had printed the first issue of The Hopkins Quarterly, after much planning and consultation before actually seeing the first issue. He remembered much "trepidation and misgiving." Whether they knew of the strong skepticism about their potential success, I do not know. He recalled all the preparation they made for the first issue. He noted that they were made fully aware that journals dedicated to a single author had short lives. They also found out that the difficulties--financial, logistical, and academic--were very real. But they had triumphed. Here he (John Hopkins had left The Quarterly in 1979) was, situated in his tenth year of publication of The Hopkins Quarterly and its sponsoring organization, the International Hopkins Association. After these reflections, he happily announced that he had finally found a university publisher, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. It must have been a huge relief to finally let go of scrambling for publishing support. The success of the Hopkins venture certainly deserved recognition; he and John Hopkins could well be pleased with a decade of achievement in furthering the studies and appreciation of Gerard Manley Hopkins.
However, hurdles continued to be encountered. Changes in publishers meant changes in format and type fonts. Ahead was a change from a typeset to a photographic process; even later came digital printing. New contact addresses and office procedures slowed production timetables. Perhaps as troublesome was Giles's own professional career. In giving so much time to The Quarterly, he was unable to finish his doctoral dissertation. This delay meant he could not obtain a regular university appointment. Thus when he announced Wilfrid Laurier University's agreement to publish The Quarterly, he also announced that he was moving to Hamilton, Canada, to McMaster University to accept a part-time position. So editor and publisher locations were separated. This meant additional time lost in publishing The Hopkins Quarterly. To shorten times between the publishing dates of each issue, Giles resorted again to issuing double issues. Volumes 11 and 12 (1984 and 1985) were the first of many double-issue volumes. Still, delays in publishing continued to plague him.
As he had early on, Giles continued to be very interested in sponsoring and participating in conferences. Giles had actively set the agenda for a Modern Language Association Conference entitled, "Hopkins Biography," held in Chicago, 1977. In the very first number of The Hopkins Quarterly (no. 1, April 1974), Professor Cohen, in discussing the state of Hopkins scholarship, noted that the most critical and scholarly void in Hopkins scholarship was a definitive life of Hopkins. The validity of this judgment had been continually affirmed by the number of articles in which Hopkins scholars discussed unknown parts of Hopkins's life over the four years of The Quarterly's existence. Some biographies were being written, Paddy Kitchen's biography (1978), for example, but readers remained unsatisfied (see vol. 7, no. 4, Winter 1980). Several authors were at work, but no one knew much about the status of their research or their progress.
The MLA Conference proved to be a very rich update of current Hopkins studies with the focus on the need for a definitive biography. In an early double issue of The Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 4, nos. 3 and 4, Fall-Winter 1977-78), Giles published the papers given at the Conference. The first was a long, telling analysis by Allison Sulloway, "Hopkinsian Biography and the Grounds of Our Being: A Study of Representative Biographical Materials, Priorities, and Techniques." Whatever the actual length of her lecture, the printed version is a forty-three page review of the landscape of Hopkins studies. If no other paper had been offered at the Conference, this one would have sufficed. Giles himself offered a lecture entitled, "Hopkins Biography: Progress and Possibilities." He had attempted to obtain from the two most active Hopkins biographers, Bevis Hillier and Anthony Bischoff, S.J., some sense of their work in progress.
Hillier offered slight information about how his biography was progressing; he did note that his study would be done in two volumes, but offered no information as to when it would be completed. Gilles also reported on Fr. Bischoff's responses to his queries. Fr. Bischoff stated that his biography was well along. The earlier chapters were in full draft, some chapters about Hopkins's middle years were written, and some work had been done on the later chapters, including some extensive pages on Robert Bridges and the long posthumous period before Hopkins's poems were published. No date of completion was mentioned.
In his letter to Giles, Fr. Bischoff noted that in his biography (1977), Bernard Bergonzi had warned against a "hagiographic" strain among some Jesuit Hopkins scholars. Fr. Bischoff complained about this comment and said he would send an essay to Giles entitled, "The Problem of Hopkins's Holiness." This part of the letter prompted Giles to worry about two armed critical camps, "the Jesuits and the non-Jesuits." Giles called for restraining such critical bias in Hopkins scholarship in general and in the forthcoming biographies in particular. I do not think Giles was prejudiced in this matter. In his essay he noted some Catholic and other religious scholars who had written balanced pieces about Hopkins. He was warning against a thesis-driven biography.
Of course, there will always be differences in points of view between scholars of different backgrounds. These attitudes will be evident in their work. Unshared intellectual, cultural, and religious backgrounds undoubtedly shape any reader's responses to materials not wholly compatible with their mindsets. Yet, for the most part, good scholars attempt to be balanced in their studies and readings of Hopkins. A good example, the third paper delivered at the MLA Conference by R.K.R. Thorton, "Cast by Conscience Out," in which, with nice critical balance, he discussed the impact that Hopkins's conversion and his entering The Society of Jesus had upon his personal life and poetry.
Critical differences have caused, and do cause, critical lacunae in scholarship. However, it may be said with confidence that these infirmities are simply the consequences of reading any great poet whose poetry reaches broadly and deeply into human experience. This is to say that good poets often, and great poets always, reach well beyond any reader's personal and critical responses, which is why study and criticism about the same canon continue to occur. Giles did overreact a bit to Ft. Bischoff's hyper-critical anxieties; in any event, Ft. Bischoff never sent him the promised essay nor did he, sadly, complete his biography of Hopkins (see "Afterword" in G.M. Hopkins: An Inventory of the Bischoff Research Collection at Gonzaga, English Literary Studies: University of Victoria, 2001, for a fuller discussion of the Bischoff biography).
Having successfully sponsored and participated in two Hopkins conferences on behalf of the IHA, Giles announced in the IHA Newsletter (no. 5, Summer 1982) that he, with the collaboration of Norman White, was planning a major conference in 1984, co-hosted by The University College, Dublin, where White was a scholar-lecturer. The plan of the Conference was to bring scholars from all over the world to discuss Hopkins's life and work during the years he lived in Dublin before his death, 1884-1889. Each scholar would present a paper on some aspect of these years, focussing on the Dublin years. The Conference was set, invitations sent out, and all arrangements made with the University.
The Conference was an auspicious one. Thirty-two scholars offered papers. The conference room was in the very building where Hopkins lived. Visits were made to Hopkins sites in and around Dublin. It was the most comprehensive Hopkins conference ever held. Giles and White gathered copies of the papers offered with the intention of publishing them. This would take some doing, given the financial requirement and publishing logistics involved. And it would take some time to reproduce the texts for publication. They were published as special issues of The Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 14, nos. 1-4, April 1987-January 1988, and vol. 15, nos. 1-4, April 1988-January 1989). The first volume was entitled, Hopkins & Dublin: The Man, The City, and the second volume, Hopkins &: Dublin: The Letters, The Poems. These issues were really book collections of essays on Hopkins, over 200 pages in each, along with well selected contextual photographs and sketches judiciously placed throughout the text. These books contained a most rich cache of Hopkins scholarship produced by the world's most productive scholars. Fr. Thomas's original Hopkins's Society had grown into an International Hopkins Society celebrating a world-class poet. This Conference marked the fruition of his dream--a gathering of the world's most productive scholars discussing the life and works of Hopkins.
Because Giles could not attend the Conference due to finances and professional responsibilities, White was left to manage the whole Conference by himself, which he did with much success. In the end, both Giles and White had reason to feel the greatest satisfaction in their accomplishment. And members of the IHA as well had to be impressed with the status of Hopkins studies at this international level.
These Dublin Conference essay collections would be added to the monograph series now being offered by the IHA to its members. The series had grown to four monographs: to monograph 1, The Critical Receptions Of Gerard Manley Hopkins in the Netherlands" And Flanders by Van Noppen, was added number 2, Gerard Manley Hopkins, a Tribute, by W.A.M. Peters, S.J., number 3, Hopkins Among the Poets: Studies in Modern Responses to Gerard Manley Hopkins, edited by Richard F. Giles, and number 4, What Sprung Rhythm Really Means by Edward Stephenson. Like the first monograph, each of these is a rich addition to the growing abundance of Hopkins scholarship. Giles had managed, again against heavy financial odds, to carry out this dimension of IHA goals to celebrate Hopkins. His achievements were growing apace.
By the time Giles had finished with the Dublin Conference and its subsequent publications, the centenary of Hopkins's death, 1889-1989, was upon him. The huge growth and interest in Hopkins studies in the preceeding thirty years had given rise to an international celebration of Hopkins. Conferences were being planned around the world.
While these celebrations were year-long, among the most notable was the exhibition of Hopkinsiana in the middle of the centennial year at the University of Texas, Austin. A professor of English at North Texas State in Denton, Texas, Carl Sutton and his wife Elizabeth, who had become very devoted lovers of Hopkins's poetry, undertook to produce a major exhibition. Sutton knew that the University of Texas had, over the years, bought a large number of significant Hopkins items in the manuscript and artifact market and placed them in the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University.
Through his friendship with the Center's Director, Decherd Turner, Sutton, named Curator, began to put together a major Hopkins exhibit. Giles became involved and arranged for the IHA to be a co-sponsor of the event. On exhibit would be about 100 Hopkins manuscripts, about 200 foundational books of Hopkins scholarship, 700 cultural items inspired by Hopkins: original paintings and drawings, wood and metal engravings, musical settings of Hopkins's writings by known and unknown composers, celebratory posters, calligraphy, sculptures, book illustrations, book bindings, and limited letter press editions. Among the items still being gathered were poems about or alluding to Hopkins, as well as fiction in which Hopkins is mentioned. Sutton and his wife had also been private collectors of Hopkins materials for some years and their holdings were also on display. The exhibition was open to the public from June 1 to September 30, 1989.
The Research Center published a lavish, commemorative exhibition book entitled, Hopkins Lives. The 187-page publication was beautifully printed with 48 illustrations and a listing of some 538 items in the exhibition, along with essays in the book which set forth the scholarly background of this celebration of Hopkins. The first essay by Fr. Joseph J. Feeney, S.J., is a careful account of the rich Hopkins holdings in the Ransom Humanities Center, a clear demonstration that this Collection made the Center a major research library in Hopkins studies. The second essay by Todd K. Bender is the story of the emergence of Hopkins's reputation between his death in 1889 and the publication of the first volume of his poetry in 1918. The third essay by Mackenzie is an overview of the status of Hopkins's poetic manuscripts, an account of the initial editing of the first publications of the poetry, and an analysis of the very difficult problems the manuscripts present to a modern editor. Mackenzie's account came from his ongoing editorial preparation of the Oxford Clarendon edition of the poetry and a complete facsimile edition of the manuscripts. Richard E Giles, I think fittingly, offered an essay surveying the development of Hopkins scholarship in the twentieth century. His survey is a comprehensive detailing of major works, eleven concordances, and many other studies in the evolution of Hopkins scholarship. Of course, given the huge production of writings about Hopkins after World War II, he had to be prudently selective yet still name and comment on the most influential writings from which later scholarship was produced. Giles was in a good place to write this essay, for as editor of The Quarterly, he had kept abreast of the main line of scholarly criticism. Carl Sutton's essay, the closing one, is a narrative and commentary on the items in the exhibition of which he was so justifiably proud. He and his wife had come a long way from their first efforts to sponsor Hopkins, from inaugurating an annual Hopkins memorial sonnet contest to President of the IHA, now climaxed by his curatorship of the Texas Hopkins exhibit.
The Fall 1988 issue of the IHA Newsletter (no. 10) announced the first of what would be a flood of Hopkins centenary conferences worldwide. These conferences would add a small library of essays and books to the Hopkins shelf. So notable and many were these celebrations that Fr. Feeney published a twenty-four page article in The Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 18, no. 3, October 1991) in which he listed and described Hopkins conferences that took place in the Philippines, India, South Africa, Europe, Canada, and the United States. In these conferences scholars discussed and praised Hopkins's poetry in centennial day events, exhibitions, seminars and lectures, and in a host of books, learned journals, and essays, including music, drama, and art. As Carl Sutton proclaimed in opening the centennial year, "Hopkins lives" around the world.
The centenary celebrations marked a turning point in the vitality of the International Hopkins Association and a new phase was inevitable. Understandably, Giles was coming to the end of his run. In the Fall-Winter IHA Newsletter no. 11 (Fall-Winter 1989), he announced that Professor Joaquin Kuhn of St. Michael's College in Toronto had agreed to become Treasurer of the IHA. This appointment significantly lifted from Giles the financial matters of the Association and The Quarterly. He also announced the appointment of Fr. Feeney of St. Joseph's University as Secretary of IHA, again shifting the constant and large communication network to sustain the association and The Quarterly to other competent hands. Whether these appointments were an intended prelude to Giles leaving his editorial post in the journal and the IHA, I do not know. Clearly, however, new competent help was now on board.
In 1991, Giles edited and published Volume 18 of The Hopkins Quarterly as a double issue (nos. 1-2) and as single issues (nos. 3-4). Surprisingly, the huge outpouring of Hopkins scholarship leading up to the centenary year and after did not diminish the material being sent to The Quarterly. This volume of The Hopkins Quarterly contained a catalogue of the Hopkins Collection at Campion, Oxford, a Hopkins bibliography for 1988, articles still offering fresh readings of Hopkins, poems, and four reviews. It should be mentioned that the reviews over the years in The Quarterly were especially valuable. All scholars know how erratic is the publication of reviews in learned journals. Giles managed to publish reviews of much important Hopkins scholarship regularly, thus giving its readers current awareness and access to ongoing Hopkins research.
After World War II, there was established a large community of Hopkins scholars, invigorated by The English Hopkins Society, which was increased in number and variety by the International Hopkins Association. Undoubtedly, these organizations and their publications, along with periodic meetings and conferences, enriched and ultimately influenced the collegiality, temper, perspective, and contents of much Hopkins scholarship produced during these past forty years. Thus the scholarly lives of Hopkins scholars and their passing were notable events. As noted earlier, Fr. Thomas had featured obituaries of notable Hopkins scholars in his Research Bulletin, The memorials to Hopkins scholars who had passed away over the years were also another regular feature in The Quarterly. Together, Ft. Thomas and Giles published the obituaries of a generation of Hopkins scholars.
With the publishing of Volume 18 of The Hopkins Quarterly and his last IHA Newsletter, no. 12 (Fall-Winter 1990-1991), Giles came to the end of his astonishing run. He did publish; however, it was a brief newsletter. In an "Editor's Introduction" Giles noted a "pull back" on IHA news. He noted a kind of "post-celebratory letdown following the numerous centenary celebrations in 1989." In these brief notes one detects a tone of exhaustion. He did announce that the IHA would publish another monograph, its fifth. He also announced that it would be published using a digital process, that the new monograph was already computerized, and would soon be available. However, it was not published under Giles's editorial leadership.
Just when Giles left the leadership of the IHA and The Quarterly can be dated only generally. My queries to him received no response. I have been told that Giles simply ceased his duties for personal reasons sometime in 1992 or 1993. So far as I can find out, in seeking his replacement to take up such heavy duties, he turned to his recently appointed staff members, Kuhn and Fr. Feeney, asking them to assume the editorship. Their considerations in taking on such a major task resulted in a hiatus of several years before the editorship was settled and The Hopkins Quarterly began to be published again.
Various Hopkins scholars discussed informally the future of the IHA and The Quarterly. The dates of the interim period of the journal's temporary cessation are hard to determine. The dating of such journals and the newsletters is generically set by volume, number, seasonal quarter, and year in a sequence, even when the actual publishing date is later than the printed cover date. For example, the last Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 18) Giles published was in 1991; Volume 19 was not published until 1995, though its sequential date was Winter-Fall 1992.
Joaquin Kuhn and Ft. Joseph Feeney became the official representatives of the IHA, pursuant to the new incorporation of the IHA as a "chartered body of New York." James Finn Cotter, Professor of English at Mount Saint Mary College, was named IHA President in 1990 by Richard Giles, succeeding Carl Sutton who had been appointed in 1986. Apparently these three officers of the IHA were empowered to act on the selection of a new editor.
Some talk about a new editor took place at the annual Irish Hopkins Conference in Monastrevin, Ireland, in 1993. Sometime in May, 1994, following encouragement from Hopkins scholars at the Irish meeting, Kuhn and Fr. Feeney met to discuss, and agreed to assume, a co-editorship of the journal. Sometime later Kuhn drove to Hamilton, Ontario, to obtain the journal's records and materials from Giles. His leaving the editorial leadership of The Quarterly passed, unfortunately, without due notice, praise, and celebration. I, for one, felt he should have been given the IHA's Distinguished Scholar's Award.
At a Hopkins sesquicentennial conference at Baylor University in March 1994, the first major conference after the centennial celebrations, a quorum of Hopkins scholars discussed the future of the IHA and The Quarterly. It was announced that the editorial reins had been handed over to Kuhn and Fr. Feeney, who had become co-editors of The Hopkins Quarterly; this quorum of scholars concurred. New editorship meant many changes in format, printing, editorial offices and the rest of the review of pending submissions. Both editors were and still are fully active professors in their universities and noted Hopkins scholars. However rough in the making, the editorial transition was was fully accomplished. In June 1994, the new editors issued a letter to Hopkins scholars in the name of the IHA and The Quarterly that they were assuming the editorship. They also thanked Richard Giles for his years of splendid work editing the journal and leading the IHA. As well, they announced that established scholarly and publishing practices would continue and that a new issue would be forthcoming soon. (3)
As for Richard Giles and John Hopkins, their accomplishments can only be described as astonishing. At a time when Hopkins's recognition was gaining momentum, Giles and Hopkins stepped up and joined the prodigious effort Fr. Thomas had begun. For seventeen years their enterprise to celebrate Hopkins's writings worldwide was extraordinarily successful. Of course, there were hitches, delays, errors, and often serious difficulties. Yet their efforts were sustained and thus their contribution to the study of Hopkins huge.
Looking back, how fortuitous for lovers of Hopkins was their coming. While Fr. Thomas made a fine beginning, both situation and age prevented him from carrying The English Hopkins Society over the long haul. One cannot overestimate the significance of Giles and Hopkins joining the project of soliciting international Hopkins scholarship from major scholars. It is true, of course, that it took the contributions and cooperation of many scholars and readers to reach this goal, but without the locus of an ongoing international organization centralizing the communicative forces of publications, newsletters, and conferences, Hopkins's reputation would not have grown so steadily and significantly. (4)
Again it should be remembered, in the 1960s Hopkins's poetry was only minimally represented in Victorian anthologies used in universities. Slowly and persistently, his writings have become fully represented. As Hopkins's stature rose to the status of a major Victorian poet, so did his stature as a modern poet. Not being published until the second decade of the twentieth century, many readers read him as a contemporary poet. Hopkins's works, so advanced in poetic techniques and creative form, are now regularly printed in anthologies of modern poetry. Beginning with Hopkins's commemorative stone in Westminster Abbey as a major English poet, Hopkins's reputation has reached international distinction. It was during the Giles and Hopkins years that Hopkins has been moved to that rare status of a world-class poet. They can be justly proud of their contributions to the reaching of this ultimate literary recognition.
The achievements of these men rest upon two principles of the use of literary criticism. The first one is that criticism is a primary factor in literary creation. Creative writing is, at base, a prolonged act of authorial criticism. Authors go through careful creative judgments in attempting to produce their literary works of art. The finished work is the last form of the siftings of a critical process of literary creation. The manuscripts of any significant author attest to this operating creative principle. A reader's response to this finished holistic critical act leads us to the second principle: reader critics add to literary creation. Original creative works of the imagination are expressions that need analysis, interpretation, and evaluation. These are the formal processes by which creative writing reaches its fullest artistic and cultural impact. Matthew Arnold understood that in their cultural mission, the literary arts need the supplements of the literary critic. He wrote in The Function of Criticism at the Present Time, "Life and the world being in modern times very complex things, the creation of the modern poet, to be worth much, implies a great critical effort behind it." Hopkins's poetry became "worth much" culturally because Ft. Alfred Thomas, Richard Giles, John Hopkins, and all their assistant reader critics have labored over his texts in order to analyze them, to interpret them, to evaluate them, in sum, to celebrate them, to complete their literary destiny.
This is the story of the making of a world-class poet, a poet who had no public readership during his lifetime, who, at his death, left his poems in disarray, never had a role in the editorial making of that final act of critical literary creation, the editing of his poems as a collected volume. His literary writings lay hidden from the world for nearly a generation and were not published until the century after he had died, and still remained largely unknown for nearly another generation. Yet the genius of his creative imagination was gradually discovered because his reader critics rescued it from oblivion. That rescue is here documented though, of course, the full story includes all those readers, professional and amateur, who have been surprised by the joy of his creations. As Richard Giles wrote in The Quarterly on the occasion of its tenth anniversary,
In HQ's pages will be found contributions from individuals in countries around the world and in positions ranging from high-school principals to college presidents; from individuals in religious orders; from individuals who are stridently irreligious; from individuals who adore the person of Hopkins; and from those who favour the work far from the man. The list could continue about past contributors and about our future ones as well. The diversity, I hope, made HQ the kind of meeting place we intended it to be.
THE new editorial leadership had much reorganization to manage, including revaluation of transferred submissions on hand and the arranging for new printing and formatting procedures with a new press. In their letter to subscribers, dated June 1994, in the new Hopkins Quarterly (vol. 19, nos. 1-4, Winter-Fall 1992), the new editors announced the renewal of the periodical's publication. They would still be dedicated to the original purposes of the journal with assurances that all past subscriptions would be honored, that individual subscribers would become automatically members of the IHA. This volume, a double issue, was actually the monograph Richard Giles had announced in his last IHA Newsletter, Warren Anderson's edition of Hopkins's Dublin Notes on Homer. Perhaps the new editors, overwhelmed by the transfer of editorship, chose this way to reintroduce The Quarterly because, as Giles noted in 1990-1991, it was virtually ready to be printed. The new editors simply moved from a monograph form to a quarterly form of publication. In effect, this was Giles's publication issued by the new editors. Thus continuity was maintained.
As to the status of the IHA following the death of Carl Sutton, its second president (Giles was ex-officio the first president), it too went into limbo for a time and has remained largely inactive, except as a sponsoring organization for The Quarterly. An IHA Newsletter (no. 13, Winter-Spring 2000) was issued anonymously with some Hopkins news items. One item revealed that St. Joseph University Press had produced a new journal format including the cover. The letter also noted that Regis University was holding a Hopkins conference, that the Gerard Manley Hopkins Society of Ireland would hold its thirteenth summer school at Monastrevin, and that McMaster University was planning a conference on Hopkins (later canceled). There was also a notice of the death of Ruth Seelhammer, whose long and generous service to the study of Hopkins is marked by The Hopkins Collection at Gonzaga becoming a major center of Hopkins research. (See my "In Memoriam" in Volume 26 of The Quarterly [nos. 3-4, Summer-Fall 1999]).
In the ensuing years, the IHA has become little more than a token of the original IHA founded by Giles. At the outset, Giles began asserting a close association between the IHA and The Quarterly in the front matter of the journal. As we have already noted, the IHA became very active in sponsoring many major conferences and exhibitions, giving awards and publishing news of Hopkins studies. The IHA still is the basic charter organization of Hopkins scholars and the publishing of The Quarterly is its principal activity. However, the IHA has ceased all other activities to date, save publishing The Hopkins Quarterly since the year 2000.
This is not to say that the IHA might not resume some of these activities at any time. And there are some satellites of the IHA carrying on its activities. For example, the summer school at Monastrevin, Ireland, has styled itself as a branch of IHA in so far as some part of it is dedicated to Hopkins, and Regis University's annual meeting, which seems to be an American Chapter of the Irish Hopkins summer school; Regis also held an international conference on Hopkins in Rome at the Gregorian University, October 2002, in which thirty-seven scholars from around the world delivered papers. Another conference is being held at Oxford University, October 2004. While these conferences are loosely associated with the IHA, their thriving activities can be considered, at least, cousins to the original IHA. (5)
Once under way, Kuhn and Fr. Feeney have firmly taken up the editorial direction of The Quarterly in the tradition of Richard Giles and Fr. Alfred Thomas. There have been gaps in publishing subsequent issues due to a range of problems resulting from the transition from Giles's leadership to theirs, but they have revived The Hopkins Quarterly. The journal has begun appearing once more, has nearly become current, and again is publishing a rich spectrum of Hopkins scholarship in the ensuing six volumes.
Coming to Volume 25, the silver jubilee volume, the editors, in a sense, paused and asked how this enormous growth in Hopkins's literary reputation happened. Of course, in this brief history we have discussed the primary reasons for this growth. Now, rightly, the editors turned to the scholars who have made their formidable contributions to the making of a world-class poet. The editors invited twenty-nine scholars to explain how they came to work on Hopkins, how they moved from acquaintanceship to deep literary and scholarly friendship. Kuhn wrote in the preface to this jubilee volume, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire," "This volume of The Hopkins Quarterly is a compilation of encounters with the poet and his poems. The present state of public knowledge and appreciation of Hopkins didn't just happen; it is an intertwined synthesis of many personal histories."
Volume 25 (nos. 1-2, Winter-Spring 1998) is an astonishing elucidation of twenty-five years of Hopkins scholarship. In them, scholars looked at their engagement with Hopkins from a personal side and told surprising stories of how Hopkins had seized their minds and hearts. It is fair to say that this volume and its successor are unique in literary scholarship, for seldom have scholars bared their souls about what moves them to be so dedicated to a writer and his works.
So receptive had been the responses to these two Hopkins Quarterly volumes, that the new editors decided to expand them to include a greater international range of Hopkins readers and scholars. The original number expanded to fifty-five, covering three generations of readers of Hopkins from thirteen countries, including Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia. The invited respondents returned essays as revealing and interesting as the first invitees. The editors published a complete collection of these essays as a book entitled, Hopkins Variations: Standing Round a Waterfall (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph's UR 2002). One might say that this publication is a capstone of the ardent dedication that Fr. Thomas, Giles, and Hopkins contributed over so many years. This book is, indeed, an International Hopkins Association volume, a companion work to this history here told.
The Quarterly has gone on to Volumes 26-30, with a fresh cover and format put in place in Volume 26 (nos. 1-4, Winter-Spring 1999) as it enters its second quarter of a century. Editor Kuhn wrote, in the Preface to Volume 27, "Those of us who study and write on Hopkins find ourselves linked to a poet whose readership is every year more widespread and who is destined to outlive his once-famous contemporaries." In this informal essay about the history of Hopkins criticism, I have tried to relate a major chapter of G.M. Hopkins's story. Hopkins's world-class literary reputation began to be established because a few courageous visionaries worked to celebrate G.M. Hopkins's art with a love and devotion, a dedication and effort, that only a truly deep passion could bring about. All of us who revere Hopkins and his poems are greatly in their debt.
It will be remembered that Fr. Thomas began to try to generate public interest in Hopkins's writings through The English Hopkins Society by inaugurating a series of public lectures and sermons by distinguished scholars and divines. Fr. Thomas knew that Hopkins's reputation as a poet was slowly growing among scholars, but his writings were little read beyond the borders of academe. Of course, his scheme was principally intended to interest English readers and professional critics, but he did have the lectures and sermons printed and offered copies to members of his Society and other interested Hopkins readers throughout the world. However, these early critiques and appreciations of Hopkins had very narrow distributions both in England and abroad. Some copies have lain, until now, in archives and scholars' and university libraries, largely ignored and unknown. It seemed to me fitting that they should now be noted, not only because they are part of the historical record of the making of a poet, but also because in and of themselves, they mark a renewal of engagement with Hopkins's writing after World War II, and are interesting, provocative, historical responses to Hopkins's writings.
Fr. Thomas's Hopkins Society was in its infancy, thus he also had to sell the Society to his invitees as a worthy academic environment in which to offer serious scholarly papers. In choosing lecturers, Fr. Thomas did not have many choices if he had confined himself to English scholars. Most of the first generation of Hopkins scholars were deceased. Of course, he also had to consider those academics with whom he had some acquaintance and contact. It is likely this is why he approached Professor Barbara Hardy of London University for the first lectureship. According to their letter exchanges, she was very cautious as well as busy, for she was a scholar of rising prominence. Fr. Thomas perhaps took his chances because of his contact with her at London University where he took his doctoral degree.
Although Fr. Thomas sometimes suggested a subject or theme for treatment, in his circumstances, he had to leave the matter of the lecture topic up to each speaker. Thus there is no thematic format to the seven lectures given under the Society's auspices. Generally, they are very perceptive, disparate studies of various aspects of Hopkins's poetry.
The sermon invitees were a different matter. Being a religious, Fr. Thomas did have knowledge of and contacts with the divines who might be considered for giving a sermon. Moreover, this aspect of The Hopkins Society program offered him the opportunity to carry out a very personal goal: to suggest the writings of Hopkins as spiritual reading. How better to do this than by hearing about him and his works in the pulpit? Also since Hopkins was a religious, he could be associated biographically with religious centers which, through this association, offered sites where the sermons might be preached.
For example, when Fr. Thomas approached Bishop Trevor Huddleson, C.R., to preach the inaugural sermon, he described The English Hopkins Society to the Bishop by outlining its purposes, naming the notables who were members, and asking the Bishop to become a special member of the Society, carrying the title of Vice-president (an honor Fr. Thomas followed from the outset). Getting a positive response to this initial contact, Fr. Thomas then asked the Bishop to give the first annual Hopkins sermon in the name of the Society. In his letter, Fr. Thomas described the setting, in this case, the church where Hopkins was baptized, St. John's, Stratford. Fr. Thomas told the Bishop that the program would begin mid-afternoon with a sequence of hymns sung, readings from Hopkins, and finally his sermon of about fifteen minutes. After Huddleston accepted, Fr. Thomas told him that happily, the occasion would mark the 125th anniversary of Hopkins's birth. It was also made clear that the occasion was a notable one in that the event marked the celebration of Hopkins's Christian birth, and with the singing of a Newman hymn, Hopkins's conversion to Catholicism. Fr. Thomas also explained that subsequent sermons would be offered in each of the four London churches associated with Hopkins. These arrangements, were, of course, far more elaborate than the settings of the academic lectures.
What follows are brief accounts of the seven annual lectures and sermons given under the auspices of The English Hopkins Society from 1969 to 1976. They have not been reprinted in full because of copyright complexities.
(1) In Honor of Alfred Thomas, S.J., Richard Giles, Joseph Hopkins, John Pick. Acknowledgments: I have been helped in the writing of this short, informal history about the establishment of Hopkins's international literary reputation by many friends and colleagues. Assistance was offered in too many ways to detail them all individually. I am most grateful to all who responded to my calls for help of all kinds. I hope I have made fair use of their information in every way. Of course, errors are mine alone. I should give notice that the dating of events, letters, and some publications is often problematical because dates were frequently left out, incomplete, or ambiguous. In every case I have tried to be as accurate as I could to date important events in the chronology of the materials I used. Finally, I wish to thank holders of letters and other materials for allowing me fair use of their holdings. Special gratitude is expressed to Fr. Thomas McGoog, S.J., Curator of the Archivum Britannicum Societatis Jesu, for his continued generous help by allowing Fr. Francis MacAloon, S.J., of Santa Clara University to do major research on Fr. Alfred Thomas's Hopkins Society Correspondence (Boxes 17-26) on my behalf in the Jesuit Archives, as well as responding to my frequent inquiries. Special thanks to Fr. MacAloon as well for his generous scholarly assistance.
The following persons made available to me their expertise on Hopkins and the International Hopkins Society in America concerning many matters, factual and textual: Joseph Feeney, S.J., for help on the transfer of the editorship of The Hopkins Quarterly; Professor Frank Fennell for his reading a draft version of the manuscript and offering very useful suggestions; Fr. Philip Endean, S.J., who offered valuable copyright advice on Thomas materials in the Farm Street Jesuit Archives in London, and very useful help in providing me with an informed Jesuit impression of Fr. Alfired Thomas via his obituary for Fr. Thomas in the Jesuit publication, Letters' and Notices. Also special thanks to Stephanie Plowman and Sharon Prendergast of Gonzaga University's Rare Books Library, where a major Hopkins Collection is housed, including my own scholarly Hopkins papers, for their usual library support of my writing on Hopkins. Special thanks to Anne Russell for major assistance with preparing the text. To each of these persons, I offer my sincere gratitude for their gracious and generous support.
(2) During the preparation of his thesis and after, Fr. Thomas continued asking Fr. Bischoff for help. Despite Fr. Bischoff's surmise that Fr. Thomas was actually writing a biography of the early Jesuit life of Hopkins, he encouraged Fr. Thomas to search for more Hopkins materials and did offer to help. Fr. Thomas took him up on his invitation, asking him for more assistance in identifying the numerous persons cited in the "Porter's journal."
Part of Fr. Thomas's endeavor surely was motivated by the preparation of his doctoral thesis for publication. He knew that he was crossing over into Fr. Bischoff's scholarly preserve. Fr. Bischoff had been commissioned by Jesuit Provincial D'Arcy to write a full biography of Hopkins's life as a Jesuit. Nevertheless, Fr. Thomas revised his thesis and got it accepted by Oxford University Press by Easter, 1968. He told Mackenzie he was expecting it to be issued very soon, but Mackenzie warned him that the book would not likely be out for six months or more, given his own publication experience with the press. He was correct--Fr. Thomas's book, Hopkins the Jesuit: The Years of Training, was not issued until 1969. It was given very good reviews.
Fr. Thomas's publication was a delicate matter. In their correspondence between, 1963 and 1969, it became gradually clear to Fr. Bischoff that Fr. Thomas was actually writing a segment of Hopkins's biography. When Fr. Bischoff acknowledged having received a copy of Fr. Thomas's book, Fr. Thomas must have been surprised by Fr. Bischoff's response: he generously congratulated him, saying that the book was very detailed, well documented, and most interesting (July 14, 1971, Bischoff Hopkins Collection, Gonzaga University).
However, Fr. Bischoff also gently reminded Fr. Thomas that virtually all the materials he had used for his book he had discovered during his researches in 1947-1948. While Fr. Thomas made no acknowledgment of Fr. Bischoff's scholarly research and assistance in his book, still Fr. Bischoff offered him help in what he supposed was Fr. Thomas's unmentioned larger agenda, the writing of a full biography of Hopkins. It seems that Fr. Bischoff was right about this. Fr. Thomas did begin a biography, though he only drafted two chapters, along with a few biographical essays. When Fr. Thomas died, Fr. Bischoff, in a letter to me, briefly eulogized Fr. Thomas and pondered whether he should have invited Fr. Thomas to work with him on a collaborative biography.
Another activity Fr. Thomas undertook was the compiling of a pictorial biography of Hopkins and his editors. He wrote Mackenzie (April 22, 1968) asking for a picture. He also inquired about locating a copy of the book of Hopkins's father's poems entitled, A Philosopher's Stone and Other Poems. Mackenzie reported that he had never seen a copy of the book. Fr. Thomas tried again by asking Fr. Bischoff (November 1968) about Manley Hopkins's poems. Fr. Bischoff had a copy and reproduced it for Fr. Thomas. Although Fr. Thomas never did finish or publish his intended pictorial biography of Hopkins, he contributed two photographs to All My Eyes Can See: The Visual World of Gerard Manley Hopkins, edited by R.K.R. Thornton (1975).
Among the materials I have researched are the letters and papers of Fr. Thomas in the Archivum Britanicumm Societatis Iesu at Farm Street, London, via the generosity of Fr. Thomas McCoog, S.J., Archivist. Fr. Thomas's life records are located in box 21 / 5 / 6 / 6; his Hopkins Society papers are in boxes 17 / 3 / 1, 17 / 4 / 3, 17 / 4 / 5 and 44 / 5 / 5; card catalogue (including members of Hopkins Society), box 44 / 5 / 5; Fr. G.F. Lahey, S.J. papers in box 17 / 4 / 3 (Hopkins card); miscellaneous letters regarding publishing, plaques, etc. in box 17 / 5 / 1. These are inventory designations in the Jesuit Archive.
(3) It is conjecture that Giles personally turned to Kuhn and Fr. Feeney to take over the journal. He may well have left the matter to IHA members. A complicating delay of starting up the journal once more was that it had to be registered as a nonprofit entity in the United States. This status was managed through the office of the President of the IHA, Professor James Cotter, who arranged for the IHA to be incorporated in the state of New York as a nonprofit organization.
An IHA meeting was held in Philadelphia on April 29, 1995. (Apparently there was also a meeting of the IHA on March 25, 1994. I am not privy to the minutes of this meeting.) At the April meeting, the major business was a presentation of The Hopkins Quarterly publication by the new co-editors, Fr. Feeney and Kuhn, and a forecast of the ensuing issues. Also there was a discussion of the Hopkins IHA Newsletter and the giving of the Hopkins prize for distinguished scholarship. It was decided to delay these activities until The Hopkins Quarterly's publication was brought up to date. As well, there was an election of officers of the IHA "to serve until the next annual meeting of the directors, or until their respective successors are elected and qualified." The elected officers were President, James Finn Cotter: Secretary, Joseph J. Feeney, S.J.; Treasurer, Joaquin Kuhn (Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the IHA).
Another IHA meeting was held on January 30, 1997. At this meeting in Monastrevin, County Kildare, Ireland, again the status of The Hopkins Quarterly was discussed. A new election was held. Elected were Cotter as President, Fr. Feeney as Vice President, and Thomas E Connelly, III, as Secretary (minutes of the annual meeting of the IHA). Apparently, this meeting, with a quorum of Hopkins scholars present, either confirmed the election in April 1995, or reelected the same officers for another term. I am not aware of any further meetings of the IHA.
(4) I met Richard Giles on two occasions, the Hopkins Conference in Canada and the Hopkins Centenary Celebration at the University of Texas. I found him to be an affable person but quiet and unassuming. In these meetings, I came away with some astonishment that Giles was indeed the person who, as a young graduate student, possessed the personal and professional capacities to found a successful literary journal focused on one writer. Certainly his energy and his capability for growing into an earnest and knowledgeable editor cannot be denied. In doing this brief, informal history, I tried to contact him for information and insight, but he has never replied. I have been told that since retiring in Canada, he seldom replies to any queries, I am sorry for this. Over the years, as a member of the IHA board of scholars, I did receive some letters as well as some exchanges regarding articles I submitted to The Hopkins Quarterly. As a Hopkins scholar, and speaking, I believe, for most Hopkins scholars, I think we all owe him a great deal of more praise and gratitude than he has received.
As for John Hopkins, one of the original founders of The Hopkins Quarterly, he has remained a kind of phantom. My efforts to date to contact him have not been successful. No doubt he deserves some of the same gratitude offered to Richard Giles.
(5) Surely part of the reason for the changes in IHA activity is that associated Hopkins societies have taken over some of its duties. For example, the Hopkins summer school in Monastrevin, Ireland, partly a conference for Hopkins scholars, has published annually some of the Hopkins papers offered at the meetings. The Hopkins Society in Japan holds it own meetings and events, as does the Society at Regis University in Denver and The Hopkins Society in Wales. Moreover, the status of Hopkins studies has evolved in certain ways beyond these sponsoring societies. Scholarship about Hopkins has its own independent status as scholars continue to publish in a variety of learned journals and books with many academic publishers. In effect, the IHA has become largely decentralized. While there will continue to be much publication about Hopkins, perhaps we have arrived at a point where the next major phase will be a full revaluation of Hopkins criticism in order to determine the future of Hopkins scholarship.
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|Author:||Downes, David Anthony|
|Publication:||Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2005|
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