LOOKING BACK - April 30 edition

Rupert Brooke
Rupert Brooke

Rupert Brooke centenary

May 1, 1915

We regret to record the death, on April 23rd, at Lemnos, from the effects of sunstroke, of Rupert Brooke, the poet, a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Division. The son of the late Mr WP Brooke, an assistant master at Rugby School, he was born at Rugby 27 years ago. He played cricket and football for the School and won a prize in 1905 for a poem entitled ‘The Bastille’. In 1906 he went up to Cambridge, where he was elected to a fellowship at King’s College.

You may have heard on the national news this week, it’s 100 years since the death of Rugby’s most famous son - poet Rupert Brooke.

I found the Advertiser’s obituary from our 1915 archive (right) and thought it would be good to share some more of the original tribute. This picture from our files was taken in 1913, the same year he started a year’s journey through the United States and Canada to the South Sea Islands.

The report says: “The extremely interesting articles he wrote describing that journey showed that his sympathy and imagination were wide enough to embrace all he found in the civilisation of America and Polynesia, although they did not damp his sense of humour.

When the war came Mr Brooke applied for a commission as a lieutenant in the Royal Naval Brigade. He took part in the expedition to Antwerp and came through safely. At the end of February he went to the Dardanelles.

Three weeks ago he had a slight sunstroke, which led to a serious illness, ending in his death from blood poisoning on a French hospital ship. His claims to fame rest on his volume of poems published in 1911 and his quarterly contributions to New Numbers, published at Gloucester.

He had a real lyrical gift and his poetry is full of beauty and emotion.

Mr Rupert Brooke’s war sonnets have attracted considerable attention and have had an enormous sale. They were quoted by Dean Inge in his Easter sermon at St Paul’s, the preacher affirming that one day Mr Brooke would be reckoned among the greatest of English poets.

It will not be inappropriate, now the poet has passed away, to quote from the sonnet entitled The Soldier:

‘If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed:

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware; Gave once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam.

A body of England’s breathing English air; Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.’

Whilst at Cambridge deceased won a great many distinctions and, like his father before him, was a Fellow of his college.

He has always been associated with Rugby and his mother, Mrs Parker Brooke, still resides at 24 Bilton Road, where her son came on a visit not very long ago.

The obituary notice published in The Times was written by Mr Winston Churchill, who was one of the many who greatly admired Mr Rupert Brooke and his poems.”