My friend Jill Hopkins, who has died aged 82, was a psychotherapist who believed in creative collaboration with theologians and literary writers. She was the originator and convener of the Trialogue conferences, which brought her own discipline together with those of theology and literature.
Jill was born in Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), the daughter of Richard Craufurd-Benson, a colonial official there, and his wife, Margaret (nee Taylor). She was sent to boarding school in Britain, but retained an attachment to Africa throughout her life.
After graduating in humanities from the University of St Andrews in 1960, Jill trained in London as an almoner (medical social worker). Her studies brought her to a placement at Finchden Manor in Tenterden, Kent, a “community for delinquent, disturbed or disturbing boys” founded and run by the psychotherapist George Lyward.
One of the staff members there, Sydney Hopkins, a talented mathematician 20 years her senior, became Jill’s husband in 1970, and they settled near Taunton, Somerset. They made an unlikely couple: Jill, a posh young woman, and Syd, a Cockney, over 6ft tall, and with severe disabilities from a spinal injury. He was to gain fame as the author of the popular book Mister God, This Is Anna (1974), which was written under the pseudonym Fynn, while working as a computer programmer.
After several years as a medical social worker at St Thomas’ hospital in London, Jill decided to retrain as a psychotherapist in the late 1970s with the Guild of Psychotherapy. She practised from her home in Somerset and was a founding member in 1985 of the Severnside Institute of Psychotherapy.
Jill was a key figure in launching the Trialogue conferences, combining world literature, Christian theology and insight from mental health work, along with Murray Cox, a forensic psychotherapist, and Stephen Prickett, a friend of Jill’s from her Tenterden days who became regius professor of literature at Glasgow University.
The first conference took place in Bristol in 1997. Rowan Williams, later the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a paper at the first conference and then took the chair for the next six years. To Jill’s great delight and surprise, the gatherings had energy, which attracted both British and international participation until 2019.
Syd died in 1990. Jill retired in 2008 and stood down as convener of the conferences. She continued to live outside Taunton with her pets, enjoying her beautiful garden and entertaining her many friends until she went into a care home in 2013.