2018 University of Roehampton Conference

June 21 to 23, 2018 – Conference at the University of Roehampton to celebrate the centenary of the first edition of Hopkins’ poems

An early email from Lesley Higgins to the secretary read that ‘The Hopkins Society presentation at the conference was excellent – informative, entertaining, and very spirited.  The dramatization of the letters was fascinating…’

One further snippet from Lance Pierson received Sept 19: ‘The conference to celebrate the centenary of Hopkins’ poems first being published was held appropriately at the college in Roehampton where he trained for the priesthood. Although this is in England, the conference was planned and administered from Regis University in Colorado. Sensing an opportunity, with the world on our doorstep, we asked for a table and display space to publicise ourselves and our wares as the UK Hopkins Society. A month before the conference I had an email from the Chairman, threatening to take away our space, as only 2 of our members had by then booked to attend. I pleaded with him and corrected his maths, and he relented; in the end 9 of our members made it. We managed to sell £70 of our merchandise: particularly popular was the colourful poster of the poem ‘Peace’, produced for the earlier centenary of GMH’s death. But I had to find cardboard packing tubes for people wanting to stow it in their luggage back to the States. Our pitch was well placed at the foot of the stairs up to the main meeting room. I stuck a large card announcing UK Hopkins Society on the side of the staircase, and promptly got into more trouble. The college archivist / historian gave us a guided tour of the historic building. When we came to the stairs she shrieked, ‘WHO has polluted the beautiful iron railing with bluetack?!’  Only on promise of washing all traces of it off did I calm her down!’

A further review was received from Pat Pinsent, Senior Research Fellow in English, Roehampton University: ‘This conference, held in a location where Hopkins spent some of his formative period as a Jesuit, brought together academics and enthusiasts for his poetry from both sides of the Atlantic. After the official welcome, the first session was about the website recently set up by the International Hopkins Association (based in Chicago in the USA), which revealed that Hopkins now has 1000 followers on their Facebook link – what would he have thought about that? This was followed by a presentation from the editors of several volumes of the scholarly edition (OUP) of his Collected Works which will be completed by 2020. This will include the journals, commonplace books, notes for lectures, sketches, musical ideas, plus information about his many uncompleted projects, such as a book on Homer.
Plenary sessions included the centenary lecture by Joseph Feeney SJ, transmitted from the States, and an illustrated account from Professor Kirstie Blair about how Hopkins’ fascination with poetic structure was accompanied with an appreciation of the bold engineering projects which characterised the period. Seminar papers covered a wide range of topics, including theology, philosophy, literature, numerology, philology, architecture, and medieval music. A conference highlight was a dramatised presentation by members of the UK Hopkins Society of letters discovered in the archives of Highgate School, focusing on the period of his conversion to Catholicism and the sadness this event occasioned to his devotedly Anglican parents. Altogether this was a most rewarding three days, enhanced by the knowledge that Hopkins himself had trodden these corridors and seen the lovely views over Richmond Park.’