Rupert Chawner Brooke (August 3, 1887 – April 23, 1915) was an English
poet known for his idealistic War Sonnets written during the First World War (especially The Soldier), as well as for his
poetry written outside of war, especially The Old Vicarage, Grantchester
and The Great Lover. He was also known for his boyish good looks, which
prompted the Irish poet William Butler Yeats to describe him as "the
handsomest young man in England".
born at 5 Hillmorton Road in Rugby, Warwickshire,
England, the son of a William Parker Brooke, a Rugby
schoolmaster and Ruth Mary Brooke née Cotterill. He
attended HillbrowPrep School before being educated at RugbySchool.
While travelling in Europe, he prepared a thesis entitled "John Webster
and the Elizabethan Drama", which won him a scholarship to King's College,
Cambridge, where he became a member of the Cambridge Apostles, helped found the
Marlowe Society drama club and acted in plays including the Cambridge Greek
Play. Brooke made friends among the Bloomsbury group of writers, some of whom admired
his talent, while others were more impressed by his good looks. Brooke belonged
to another literary group known as the Georgian Poets, and was the most
important of the Dymock poets, associated with the
Gloucestershire village of Dymock, where he spent
some time before the war. He also lived in the Old Vicarage, Grantchester (a house later bought by Jeffrey Archer)
suffered from a severe emotional crisis in 1913, some say caused by sexual
confusion and jealousy, resulting in the breakdown of his long relationship
with Ka Cox. Intrigue by both Virginia Woolf and LyttonStrachey is said to have
played a part in Brooke's nervous collapse and subsequent rehabilitation trips
As part of
his recuperation Brooke toured the United States and Canada to write travel diaries for the Westminster Gazette and visited several islands in the South Seas. It was later revealed that he may have fathered
a daughter with a Tahitian woman (Taatamata) with
whom he seems to have enjoyed his most complete emotional relationship[citation
needed]. He was also romantically involved with the actress Cathleen Nesbitt.
Brooke was once engaged to Noel Olivier, whom he met while she was a
15-year-old at the progressive BedalesSchool.
accomplished poetry gained many enthusiasts and followers and he was taken up
by Edward Marsh, who brought him to the attention of Winston Churchill, then
First Lord of the Admiralty. He was commissioned into the Navy shortly after
his 27th birthday and took part in the Royal Naval Division's Antwerp expedition in October 1914. He sailed with the
British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 28 February
developed septic pneumonia from an infected mosquito bite. He died at on 23 April 1915 off the island of Lemnos in the Aegean on his way to a battle at Gallipoli. As the
expeditionary force had orders to depart immediately, he was buried at in an olive grove on the island of Skyros, Greece. His grave remains there today, the site was
chosen by his close friend, William Denis Browne, who wrote of Brooke's death:
with Rupert. At
he became weaker, and at 4.46 he died, with the sun shining all round his
cabin, and the cool sea-breeze blowing through the door and the shaded windows.
No one could have wished for a quieter or a calmer end than in that lovely bay,
shielded by the mountains and fragrant with sage and thyme.”
Brooke's brother, 2nd Lt. William Alfred Cotterill
Brooke was a member of the 8th Battalion London Regiment (Post Office Rifles)
and was killed in action near Le Rutoire Farm on the
historic Loos battlefield on 14 June 1915, aged 24.
He is buried in Fosse 7 MilitaryCemetery (Quality Street), Mazingarbe, Pas de Calais, France. He had only joined the battalion on 25 May