Rupert (right) with brother Alfred and pet Rugby (after the city he was born at). 1900.
Rupert, his mother and brother Alfred in costumes.1898.
This was a long time coming. I have a great appreciation for the poet Rupert Brooke, and these pictures of him as a boy are not often seen. They were scanned from a book I own, ‘The Letters of Rupert Brooke and Noel Olivier’, edited by Pippa Harris.
His life was short and full of ideals, and charmed for the most part. He was also sort of a selfish person who grew up with the proverbial ‘silver spoon’ in his mouth, with many men and women in his love life. But he was free-spirited too, going to America, then to Oahu (where I lived too- love his Waikiki poem) and off to Tahiti where he met the woman, Taatamata, who is thought to have given birth to his daughter.
He died in 1915 at 27, exactly a hundred years ago, of a mosquito bite that brought on scepsis while on duty on a ship. He is interred on Skyros, a Greek island, and his patriotic poem ‘The Soldier’ was used as propaganda during the first World War.
Was Rupert a man of many internal struggles? Most definitely, yet he had an immense talent with words.
In the pages of the book I have, I found an old newspaper article tucked in. Apparently, the grandmother of actress Helena Bonham Carter (who I must say I absolutely love) was very much in love with him. It was unrequited, but they kept a long exchange of letters until Rupert died.
Following is a CDV of Rupert, Alfred and their pet, and two CDV portraits of Rupert in his teens. (By the way, Rupert’s wearing the same collar as another English society boy Leonard Spiller. They both ended up at Cambridge only three years apart too. It would be interesting to find out if Leonard was Alfred’s classmate -they certainly attended during the same years and are the same age.)
Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge.
And then as he is known: ‘the most handsome man of England’ in 1913, two years before his death:
Sad too that Alfred was killed in action only three months after his brother’s death.
A favorite poem of his after the cut, ‘The Great Lover’.