Robert Bridges was born October 23, 1844, in Walmer, Kent. Educated at Eton College from 1854 to 1863, at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from 1863 to 1867, where he took a B.A., and finally at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, where he completed his M.B. in 1874. He served as a physician successively in London at St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children on Great Ormond Street, and at the Great Northern Hospital, Holloway, before retiring from his medical practice in 1882 to live at Yattendon. Two years later, on September 3, 1884, he married Monica Waterhouse. They had three children, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Edward. Before retirement he had published four books of verse, but afterwards his writing took up much more of his energy. In 1893 he published a study of Milton's prosody. By 1905 a collection of his poetry and verse plays occupied six volumes. He edited the works of poets such as Mary Coleridge and Digby Mackworth Dolben, but he also befriended one of the greatest Victorian poets, then utterly known, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and after his death, edited and published his collected poems in 1918. This act od dedicated friendship alone puts modern English poetry in debt to Bridges. Oxford University awarded him a D. Litt. in 1912, and a year later he became Poet Laureate and co-founded, with Henry Bradley and Walter Raleigh, the Society for Pure English. Bridges experimented with quantitative hexameters and unrhyming verse late in his life, when he lived near Oxford. His The Testament of Beauty (1929), in four cantos, is the pre-eminent long philosophical poem in English before T. S. Eliot's The Four Quartets. Bridges died on April 21, 1930, in Chilswell, Oxford. Here are Bridges' principal books of poetry:
- Bridges, Robert. Poems. London: Pickering, 1873. end .B753 A155 Fisher Rare Books Library
- --. The Growth of Love. London: Bumpus, 1876. Revised edn. Oxford: Daniel, 1889. end .B753 G76 1890 Fisher Rare Books Library
- --. Eros & Psyche. London: Bell, 1885. PR4161 .B6 N38 Robarts Library. Revised edn. 1894. end .B753 E76 1894 Fisher Rare Books Library
- --. The Shorter Poems. London: Bell, 1890-94.
- --. Shorter Poems Book V. Oxford: H. Daniel, 1893.
- --. Poetical Works. 6 vols. London: Smith, Elder, 1898-1905.
- --. Poetical Works. London: Oxford University Press, 1912.
- --. October and Other Poems, with Occasional Verses on the War. London: Heinemann, 1920. PR4161 .B6 O38 Robarts Library
- --. New Verse: Explanations of the Prosody of My Late Syllabic Free Verse. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925. end .B753 N48 1925 Fisher Rare Books Library
- --. The Tapestry. London, 1925.
- --. The Testament of Beauty. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929. PR 4161 .B6T4 Robarts Library
For more about Bridges' works and life, see
- Hamilton, Lee Tamplin. Robert Bridges: An Annotated Bibliography, 1873-1988. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1991. Z 8119.2 .H36 Robarts Library
- Phillips, Catherine. Robert Bridges: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. PR 4161 .B6Z82 Robarts Library
- --. “Bridges, Robert Seymour (1844-1930).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004.