Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) was born in Essex, the eldest son of a prosperous middle-class family. He was educated at Highgate School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Classics and began his lifelong friendship with Robert Bridges. In 1866 he entered the Roman Catholic Church and two years later he became a member of the Society of Jesus.
In 1877 he was ordained and was priest in a number of parishes including a slum district in Liverpool. From 1882 to 1884 he taught at Stonyhurst College and in 1884 he became Classics Professor at University College, Dublin. In his lifetime Hopkins was hardly known as a poet, except to one or two friends; his poems were not published until 1918, in a volume edited by Robert Bridges.