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Rupert Brooke and Family: Aunt Fanny

Rupert Brooke’s father, William Parker Brooke, had been one of six siblings. Rupert’s uncle Alan England Brooke was Dean at King’s College while Rupert was a student and went on to be Provost of the College. Two of Rupert’s aunts, Lizzie and Fanny remained unmarried and lived with their father Richard England Brooke, retired Rector of the Abbey at Bath, in a house called Grantchester Dean, in Bournemouth.

Rupert’s Aunt Fanny (F.M. Brooke) may have influenced his early interests. She did this through gifts, whether literary, religious or merely for amusement. As a child, he was grateful for these gifts, however they appear to have grown apart as he grew up.

Rupert saw his Aunt Fanny as ‘evangelical’. On 3 February 1906, Rupert wrote to his friend Geoffrey Keynes saying that at the age of eight he had almost been lynched for saying that he had ‘deserted the Church of England for Christianity’ and that at the age of eighteen he was ‘deserting ‘Christianity’ for the teaching of Christ’. Their differing views on Christianity seem to have caused tension between Rupert and his Aunt Fanny.

In his late teens, Brooke took a great interest in Socialism. He joined the Fabian Society and in 1909 he toured the South of England with his friend Dudley Ward campaigning for Poor Law reform. For fear of being recognised by his Aunt Fanny, they travelled through Bournemouth in disguise. This would not be the only time Rupert tried to avoid his Aunt Fanny.

When Rupert’s father died in 1910, he had to return to Rugby and teach there for a term. He wrote to his friend Jacques Raverat inviting him to visit. It seems his Aunt Fanny was also there. Brooke described her as venomous but said they could avoid her by spending time in his room.

This exhibition was created using items selected by Daisy Ashton (archives volunteer, aged 16).

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