Hugo Verriest attended the minor seminary in Roeselare (1854-1859), where Gezelle was his teacher for nine months. Some of his school papers are still preserved in the Gezelle Archives. Even though he would become one of Gezelle’s most active supporters, a difference in temperament seems to have thwarted a certain intimacy between them.
The fact that Gezelle explicitly dedicated "‘t Edele spel der vlugge schaverdijnders" (The Swift Ice Skaters’ Noble Game) to Verriest in his Gedichten, gezangen en gebeden (Poems, Songs and Prayers 1862) has more to do with Verriest’s important role in collecting and publishing these poems. Somewhat more personal is the unpublished farewell poem "Vaer al op de klare beke" (Sail upon the Bright Brook) from August 1858.
In 1860 Verriest began his philosophy studies and in 1864 he was ordained as a priest. Subsequently he started teaching at the Sint-Lodewijkscollege in Bruges (09.06.1864). On September 19th, 1867 he started teaching at the minor seminary in Roeselare, one of his pupils being Albrecht Rodenbach. He educated his pupils according to the spirit of Gezelle. He also played a key role within the “Blauwvoeterij”, a student movement named after the blue-footed fish eagle, reacting against the discrimination of Flemish people and language in Belgian society. As such he was the editor of the student magazine De Vlaamsche Vlagge (The Flemish Flag) which served as a medium for the “Blauwvoeterij”.
Subsequently he became the convent director of the Sisters of Charity in Heule (25.08.1877), superior of the college in Ypres (13.06.1878) and parish priest in Wakken (19.09.1888). On June 19th, 1895 he was appointed as a parish priest in Ingooigem and stayed there until 1912. In 1906 he joined the Royal Flemish Academy for Language and Literature. The Catholic University gave him an honorary degree in the same year. He passed away in 1922.
As an author Verriest wrote romantic impressionistic poems, stories and other prose. Especially memorable among the latter was the portrait series Twintig Vlaamse koppen (Twenty Flemish Heads) (1901). He wrote several biographies about e.g. Guido Gezelle, Stijn Streuvels and Albrecht Rodenbach. He played an important role in the Flemish Movement and was a very passionate public speaker. His lectures made him a significant promotor of Gezelle, even though his perspective was often biased.
Online Edition of the Gezelle Letters
Here you can find the digitized letters next to the full searchable text. The letters are enriched with biographical and contextual information.