Minnie Louise Haskins

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Minnie Louise Haskins (12 May 1875 – 1957) was an academic in the fields of sociology and philosophy, best known for being quoted by King George VI in his Christmas broadcast of 1939.

Haskins was born in Bitton, Gloucestershire. Her father was Joseph Haskins and her mother was Louisa Bridges.

Haskins taught from 1919 to 1939 and 1940 to 1944[1] at the London School of Economics, where previously she had herself been a student. Her nationality was British and her teaching career at the LSE began at the end of the First World War and ended just before the close of the Second World War.

Despite being principally an academic, Haskins enjoyed writing poetry, and in 1908 (as part of a collection named 'The Desert') her poem God Knows, more popularly known as The Gate of the Year, was published. It is amongst the most quoted poetic works of the twentieth century, and its words are engraved on the entrance to the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Miss Haskins did not know that the King would quote her words, and did not hear the broadcast. Next day, she was interviewed by The Daily Telegraph and said "I heard the quotation read in a summary of the speech. I thought the words sounded familiar and suddenly it dawned on me that they were out of my little book."

The poem and her life story were featured in the BBC Radio 4 programme Adventures in Poetry [2] on 19 and 25 Dec 2010.

The poem has been set to music by Canadian composer Eleanor Joanne Daley.


Miss Haskins' father was a grocer. She grew up in Warmley, Bristol. She was a Congregationalist and taught at a Sunday school there. She studied at the London School of Economics and taught in its social science department until her retirement in 1944.

Haskins was English,[3] despite various sources reporting erroneously that she was American[4] or Canadian.[5]


As well as her professional publications (mainly on industry) she wrote three volumes of poetry:

  • 1908: The Desert
  • 1928: Through Beds of Stone
  • 1932: A Few People


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