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Boardman, Brigid M. 1931-

BOARDMAN, Brigid M. 1931-

PERSONAL: Born June 29, 1931, in Winchester, England; daughter of Henry (a soldier) and Lois Neville (Urwick) Boardman. Ethnicity: "British." Education: University of Bristol, B.A. (with honors), 1970, M.A., 1971; Open University, Ph.D., 1980. Politics: Conservative. Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Home—50 Pegasus Ct., Heavitree, Exeter EX1 2RP, England. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Open University, Southwest Region, Bristol, England, course tutor in literary and religious studies, 1972-92.


Between Heaven and Charing Cross: The Life of Francis Thompson, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1988.

The Hound of Heaven: Paintings by R. H. Ives Gammell with Commentary by Brigid M. Boardman, Sigo Press (Boston, MA), 1995.

(With Philip Jebb) In a Quiet Garden, Downside Abbey Press (Bath, England), 1998.

(Editor) The Poems of Francis Thompson: A New Edition, Continuum Publishing (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to periodicals, including Clergy Review and Journal of Garden History.

WORK IN PROGRESS: The Garden in the City, on the symbolic relationship between the garden and the city; a monograph on Christopher Urswick (1459-1521).

SIDELIGHTS: Brigid M. Boardman once told CA: "In earlier years I was an artist, rather than a writer. The relationship between the two arts is of great importance to me. This is illustrated by my work on the Boston artist Robert Ives Gammell and his paintings illustrating Francis Thompson's poem 'The Hound of Heaven.' I feel the author and the writer have very vital roles to play in uniting past traditions with present needs, thus creating openings for the future. Present and future must be nourished by the past.

"My research into Thompson's life and work was the outcome of very early reading and love for his poetry, so I chose him as the subject for my M.A. dissertation. I found that neither his life nor his work had been fully examined in the light of the manuscripts held at Boston College, and when I was able to visit the collection five years later I found my suspicions fully confirmed. Thompson became a very different and much more exciting personality than the insipid figure presented by his earlier biographers. His life included very varied experiences apart from the comparatively well-known years as an opium addict on the London streets. He was closely associated with a number of writers and other personalities of the 1890s, although he was notably not one of them, and the reasons for this form an important part of my research. In addition, at the time of his death in 1907 the modernist crisis was at its height in the Catholic Church and was largely responsible for the suppression of much in his writings that can now be viewed very differently.

"I had to interrupt my earlier work on Thompson in order to take advantage of a grant to write my Ph.D. thesis, completed in 1980. It was not possible to use Thompson as my subject, there being no one in this country to supervise the project. But I was able to take up another longstanding interest in exploring the relationship between the ideas associated with the 'Paradisal Garden' and the 'City of God.' I found the symbolic significance became inseparable from the reality of both in shaping much of our outlook in Western society. The book to be based on this topic will also embrace some of the ecological issues that are so much a part of today's concerns.

"Other subjects on which I am working include a continuing interest in Christopher Urswick (c. 1459-1521), an ancestor on my mother's side and chief almoner to Henry VII. He was also a friend of Saint Thomas More and his circle and a collector of manuscripts and the classical works favored by the humanists of the time. I have written on Urswick and lectured in England and America, using slide illustrations connected with his career and the books and manuscripts still extant in British libraries.

"Another important interest is the connection between art and writing. I began my career as an artist and have always kept this as a hobby. While working on the Thompson collection at Boston College I realized how valuable a study could be made of 'The Hound of Heaven' together with the magnificent sequence of paintings based on the poem that was completed by Gammell in 1956.

"All of the above may suggest rather too wide a range of interest. But there is a unifying factor, for in each case I have been drawn to it by a certain sense that this is a personality or a subject that has something to offer to us today, an offering from the past such as we too often neglect to notice in our pursuit of the novel and the new."



Observer (London, England), July 10, 1988.

Sunday Times (London, England), July 10, 1988.

Times Higher Educational Supplement, December 16, 1988.

Times Literary Supplement, July 1, 1988.

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