Things found by the Lancashire Reading Detectives team
Francis Thompson (1859-1907) Find!
Well, I said there would be more to follow, and here it is...
Francis Thompson was born in
It was Thompson's fervent religious beliefs that would play the first part in his adult life. He made an attempt to enter the Church, studying at Ushaw in the North East, but found himself wholly unsuited to this life. A second attempt at study, this time following his father into the medical profession, was also unsuccessful. However, this time spent in
The Lancashire Red Rose, o the
We love the hue on her cheek that shows:
And it never shall blanch, come the world as foes,
For dipt in our hearts in the Lancashire Red Rose!
(Excerpt from, Sons, who have sucked stern nature forth)
Sadly, in 1879 Thompson fell ill, and it was around this time that he first used laudanum, a combination of opium and ethanol, initially as pain relief but soon after for more recreational purposes. It was also whilst he was ill that his mother gave him a copy of Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium Eater, a text that would prove to be catastrophic in its influence. In a move that paralleled de Quincey's own, Thompson left
Catholicism would always remain a driving influence throughout Thompson's life and work and a great many of his poems are filled with religious fervour. His most famous poem 'The Hound of Heaven' sees Thompson being pursued by god who despite his attempts to lose him through drugs and vagrant life still remains a lasting and undeniable influence. Although the influence Thompson's writing was to be greatly felt by writers such as J. R. R. Tolkien and Robert Browning he is largely forgotten in his hometown of
In recent years Thompson has attracted more interest as a murder suspect. Thompson has been put forward as a suspect in the infamous Jack the Ripper case of the late 1880's. He was certainly in the right (or wrong) place at the right time, living as a drug addict and vagrant in Whitechapel at the time of the murders. He also had a medical background and Jack the Ripper was famous for the surgical removal of his victims' organs. Other circumstantial evidence has been put forward as a case against Thompson but like so much of this enigmatic character's life it will remain a mystery.
Francis Thomson: Catholic, poet, cricket enthusiast, drug addict, serial killer?
1 September 2009 from Sophie
- Reading Detectives film
- Allen Clarke on the BBC website
- Brian Jacques
- Mist over Pendle-Robert Neill
- Francis Thompson....poet or serial killer......
- BBC Radio Lancashire
- Lancashire are ready to start the hunt!
- Reading Detectives are go!
- Chorley Library
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