The poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins were published, apologetically, in 1918. Over the next decade they were anthologised alongside T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound and championed by the same critics who defined literary modernism. Their influence grew with the generation that followed – the generation of W. H. Auden and Elizabeth Bishop – to whom their wildly idiosyncratic style seemed, more than ever, ‘contemporary’. And yet they were written by a Victorian priest who had died in 1889, unable to convince himself, let alone his best friends, of their worth.
Dead Poets Live – ‘an occasional, but unmissable ongoing series of plays’ Daily Telegraph – return to Wilton’s for three nights to tell the story of Hopkins’s relationship with poetry, and poetry’s relationship with Hopkins: how his extraordinary spiritual life led him to write – and then not to write – as he did, how his poems were destroyed, how they survived, how they were misunderstood, and how, ultimately, their influence triumphed. It is the story of a radical and passionate style and the radical, passionate spirit that it continues to communicate.