The other night I talked about and read from The Hopkins Conundrum in Sudbury, Suffolk, as a guest of Gainsborough’s House art gallery.
The House were great hosts and there was a jovial and distinguished audience. I
emphasised the East Anglian connections to the novel: Hopkins was born in Stratford, then in Essex, and the casualties and survivors of the wreck of the Deutschland were brought ashore at Harwich.
Yesterday, however, I discovered an even better link. I was invited to take part in a very enjoyable day in Stratford organised by the Hopkins Society. In the course of it, I discovered that Hopkins and Gainsborough were in fact related. Who knew? Well, other people already did, but not me.
The connection is that Hopkins’ great-aunt on his mother’s side, Sophia Hodges, married Gainsborough’s great-nephew, the engraver and Royal Academician Richard Lane. The latter’s mother, the daughter of Gainsborough’s elder sister Susan Gardiner, had married Herefordshire clergyman Rev Theophilus Lane.
As a family tree, it looks like this:
I know I should probably get out more, and this connection between the two artistic figures from history who most interest me at the moment won’t be quite so exciting to most other people. But I’m pleased to have learned about it, and the above diagram is my personal, ancestry nerd’s contribution to the literature.