Born: December 18, 1859, in Preston, Lancashire, England
Died: November 13, 1907, in London, England
Francis Thompson's father was a doctor of Roman Catholic faith. Francis was educated at a seminary in nothern England. To his father's disappointment he failed in his attempt to become a priest. He then studied medicine at Manchester to accommodate his father's wish that he become a doctor. After six years there he was unsuccessful.
Down and out, Thompson moved to London where he briefly sold newspapers and became addicted to opium. He was eventually able to find work as a shoemaker's assistant. Soon after, Thompson's first poetry was published in Wilfred Meynell's Merry England.
Meynall, a publisher, became a good friend of Thompson and helped him through a period of rehabilitation. In 1893, Meynall published Thompson's Poems which included the poignant ode Hound of Heaven. From 1893 to 1897 Thompson lived in Wales near a priory. Still addicted to opium and afflicted with tuberculosis, he died at age 48.
Although Robert Browning considered Francis Thompson to be a great poet, many feel that he is not worthy of this status because the quantity of his notable work is quite small. He is more famous among Catholic readers than among critics.