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Rupert Brooke and Drama: Early Life (1887-1906)

Rupert Brooke developed an interest in poetry at an early age, while still living with his family at Rugby. This interest is evident primarily through his appreciation and criticism of the works of others. Brooke was developing strong tastes, which he expressed most characteristically boldly in his letters. Some of these early dramatic experiences may have influenced his later work and attitudes.

For his thirteenth birthday, Rupert Brooke’s Aunt Fanny gave him a book of questionnaires, which he asked friends and family to complete. He also answered the questionnaire himself, revealing such details as his favourite actors and plays.

Brooke's questionnaire
For his thirteenth birthday, Rupert Brooke’s Aunt Fanny gave him a book of questionnaires, which he asked friends and family to complete. He also answered the questionnaire himself, revealing such details as his favourite actors and plays. [RCB/M/2]
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Rupert Brooke saw Peter Pan or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up for the first time in March 1904, while visiting his older brother Richard in London. In a letter to his friend Geoffrey Keynes, Rupert wrote ‘…It was perfect. It is merely and completely the incarnation of all one’s childish dreams – the best dreams, almost that one has…’

His love of the play was such that he saw it again in 1905 and planned to see it for a third time. His letter to St John Lucas, written after his second viewing, when Rupert had already come up to King’s College, Cambridge, shows that his love of the play endured, even if his new home meant he saw it in a different context. Initially, he did not enjoy Cambridge life, so the escapism offered by drama may have brought him some comfort.

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