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Rupert Brooke's signature

Brooke's biographies

There have been several biographies of Rupert Brooke and his close circle of friends, each of which have differed greatly from the others.

Edward Marsh claimed that Rupert Brooke chose him as his literary executor in February 1915. This led to Marsh writing his first biography, which was initially published as a preface to The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke in 1918, then as a separate book.

The biography was the subject of much discussion among Brooke’s friends and his mother.Mary Ruth Brooke made it clear that she would have liked Geoffrey Keynes (later to be appointed one of Rupert Brooke’s literary trustees) to write about her son, as Keynes had known him much longer. After delays in the publication of Marsh’s Memoir (see a scan of the American edition, including important prefaces), it received a mixed reception. Many thought that it omitted certain important aspects of Brooke’s life and failed to give a true representation of his personality. Subsequent biographers have attempted to correct this.

Daily Express clipping
Review of The collected poems of Rupert Brooke, with a memoir [by E. Marsh]. Cutting taken from Daily Express, 1 August 1918. Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. RCB/Xd/29
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An anonymous review of The Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke, with a Memoir was published in the Times Literary Supplement on 8 August 1918. A letter which Virginia Woolf wrote to Rupert Brooke’s friend Ka Cox on 13 August 1918 suggests that Woolf was the author of the review.

TLS review of Brooke's poems
Review of The collected poems of Rupert Brooke, with a memoir [by E. Marsh]. Cutting taken from Times Literary Supplement, 8 August 1918. The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Virginia Woolf. Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. RCB/Xd/24.
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She appears to have been concerned about what Mrs. Brooke would think of the review. Although she was not particularly close to Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf had known the Brooke family for many years and two of Rupert Brooke’s closest friends in his early life were younger brothers of her friends in the Bloomsbury group (Geoffrey Keynes and James Strachey, younger brothers of John Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey respectively).

Transcript of a letter from Geoffrey Keynes to Eddie Marsh, 16 March 1915. Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. RCB/S/9/2.

Geoffrey Keynes published an edition of Brooke’s letters in 1968. Later Keith Hale edited another edition of letters, this time focusing on the correspondence of Rupert Brooke and his friend James Strachey. In the preface to Hale’s book he stated that ‘the previously published Brooke correspondence was heavily edited or censored’. When Keynes omitted part of a letter, this was usually indicated using three asterisks, although there is at least one case of a postscript being omitted without that indication.