The Papers of Rupert Chawner Brooke

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection brings together items by and about Rupert Brooke from a variety of sources. It includes manuscript and typescript copies of Brooke's poetry and prose, correspondence between Rupert Brooke and others and a number of photographs. A limited amount of biographical and supplementary material, concentrated on items originating after Brooke's death, can also be found in this colleciton.

Administrative / Biographical History

Rupert Brooke was educated at Rugby, where his father was master for many years and where he became friends with Geoffrey Keynes. He matriculated at King's College, Cambridge in 1906 as a classics scholar, though he was later to concentrate on English. In 1909, having completed the first part of the Classical Tripos, he moved to Grantchester where he would become the centre of a group known as the 'neo-pagans' and began to write the poetry for which he would become famous. In the same year he won the Charles Oldham Shakespeare Scholarship and in 1910 the Harness Prize. He was elected a fellow of King's College in 1913.

Personal problems prompted Brooke to take a long holiday, despite his recent election to a fellowship, and he spent a year traveling in America, Canada and the Pacific, along the way writing a series of articles for the Westminster Gazette. He returned in June 1914 and soon received a commission as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division. Thereafter he served at Antwerp, trained for a winter at Blandford Camp and then joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in February of 1915. He died on the following 23 April and was buried at Skyros, the victim in succession of sunstroke and blood poisoning.

Conditions Governing Access

These papers are available for consultation at King's College, Cambridge, four days a week most of the year, by appointment only. For further details or to make an appointment please email archivist@kings.cam.ac.uk

Acquisition Information

Although held at a single location, the physical ownership of the Rupert Brooke collection is split into two parts. One part is held by King's College, Cambridge. The other is held by the Brooke Trustees, who have deposited the papers at King's College to provide public access.

The collection has a complex administrative history. At Rupert Brooke's death, Mrs. Mary Ruth Brooke, his mother, appointed Sir Edward Marsh literary executor. However, at her death in 1930 a group of literary trustees were appointed that did not include Eddie Marsh, for in the years between Brooke's death and 1930 Mrs. Brooke and Sir Edward had had many disagreements over the publishing of her son's work and the content of Marsh's 'Memoir'. The newly appointed literary trustees, Geoffrey Keynes (the most active), Walter de la Mare, Dudley Ward and John Tressider Sheppard, were charged, according to the terms of Mrs. Brooke's will, with overseeing the sale of Brooke's books and the disposition of such of his manuscripts as were not in the hands of Eddie Marsh in King's College Library.

In the event, Marsh relinquished his life interest in certain manuscripts bequeathed to him by Mrs. Brooke and significant bodies of material were transferred to King's during 1931 from both him and the literary executors. In the hands of Marsh and Keynes, a substantial amount of poetry and letters subsequently transferred were bound. The papers transferred also included transcripts of Brooke poems and letters collected by both men in preparation for publication.

The 'collection', therefore, must be seen as exactly that: the accumulations of several interested individuals, Marsh, Mrs. Brooke and Keynes, alongside the papers left by the poet at his death, his 'archive' proper. Subsequent transfers were made by the Trustees on several occasions, including a substantial additional body of Keynes's correspondence in 1980. Material was also presented to the library from other interested individuals, among them Hugh Dalton in 1962.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue is available on the University of Cambridge's Janus web site, and in hard copy in the Archive Centre. Particlar note should be made that these catalogues provide an index for the bringing together of scattered references to, for example, the letters of different individuals or the versions of a poem.

Archivist's Note

A brief box and parcel list was made during the 1930s. In 1971, Elizabeth Ellem and A.N.L. Munby produced a more detailed catalogue. In view of the different status of certain parts of the collection, some items being the property of the College and other parts remaining the property of the Brooke Trustees, it was thought best to include details of provenance and ownership in each case. In 1980, Michael Halls, Modern Archivist, produced a new listing of that part of the collection which documented Brooke's posthumous reputation (roughly that in old section X). In 1992, Elizabeth Street, Assistant Archivist, produced a detailed list of the photographs. The current catalogue improves on consistency in lay-out and detail recorded for all parts of the collection, but it has not altered the scheme of arrangement or referencing apart from previously unsorted parcels of printed material.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to quote from the unpublished writings of Rupert Brooke should be sought from the Brooke Trustees. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Bibliography

For biographical details concerning Rupert Brooke the reader is referred to the following biographies: Paul Delany, 'The Neo-pagans: friendship and love in the Rupert Brooke circle' (London: Macmillan, 1987) and Christopher Halsall, 'Rupert Brooke: A Biography' (London: Faber and Faber, 1964).

Subjects