This page contains short biographies of many of the people mentioned in this website. They are arranged alphabetically by surname.

If you don’t find an entry for the person you are looking for, there may be information online or in the Dictionary of National Biography.

See the Glossary for terms relating to Cambridge (e.g. Fellow) or Rupert Brooke (e.g. Neo-Pagan).

A / B / C / D / E / F / H / I / K / L / M / O / P / R / S / T / W


Asquith, Herbert Henry (1852–1928), first earl of Oxford and Asquith

Asquith was born on 12 September 1852 at Croft House, Morley, Yorkshire and educated at Balliol College in Oxford. In 1874 he became President of the Oxford Union. After graduating, he became a lawyer and also wrote for the Spectator newspaper. In 1886, he started his political career by becoming the Liberal candidate for East Fife. He went on to become Home Secretary (1892-1895) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1905-1908). After this, he became Prime Minister, a position he held until 1916. Rupert Brooke dined with the Asquiths, Winston Churchill, Edward Marsh and D.H. Lawrence at 10 Downing St on 30 July 1914.


Brooke, Alan England (1863-1939)

Alan England Brooke was Rupert Brooke’s uncle. Although Rupert Brooke did not mention him much in any of his letters, his uncle must have had some influence on him, for he was Dean of King’s College, when Rupert Brooke came up to study there. A former Eton student, Alan England Brooke came up to King’s College in 1883, where he studied classics. He became a Fellow of the College in the year 1889. In 1891 he was ordained as a Deacon and then in 1904 he became a priest. From 1894 until 1918, he was Dean and Lecturer in Divinity at King’s College. In 1918, he became Chaplain to the King. He became Provost of King’s College in 1926 and held this position until 1933.

Brooke, Alfred

See Brooke, William Alfred Cotterill ‘Podge’.

Brooke, Frances ‘Aunt Fanny’

Lizzie and Fanny were the sisters of William Parker Brooke, Rupert Brooke’s father. They were 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) gave him many gifts, including books. These ranged from poetry to religion. Her Christianity and his socialism meant that the relationship between Rupert Brooke and his aunt became increasingly difficult as he grew older.

Brooke, Mary Ruth (née Cotterill)

Mary Ruth Brooke was Rupert Brooke’s mother. She was the daughter of Charles Cotterill, who preached in Stoke-on-Trent. Her brother was Charles Clement Cotterill, master of Glencorse house, at Fettes School. It was there that she became a matron and met William Parker Brooke, whom she married and with whom she moved to Rugby. She was a dominant figure in Rupert Brooke’s life. After his death she had an interest in his literary estate and liaised with his biographers.

Brooke, Richard (1881-1907)

Rupert Brooke’s older brother, Richard, sometimes referred to as ‘Dick’, was born in 1881. Richard was the first of the three brothers to leave home. Rupert went to see him in London and Southsea whenever he could. On 13 January 1907, Richard, who had been working for a firm of engineers, died of pneumonia.

Brooke, Rupert Chawner (1887-1915)

Rupert Chawner Brooke was born on 3 August 1887, in Rugby, Warwickshire. He was the second of three sons of William Parker Brooke, a schoolmaster at Rugby School, and Mary Ruth Brooke. He attended a preparatory school called Hillbrow, as a day boy, from 1897 to 1901. It was there that he met James Strachey. James remained one of his closest friends for most of his life. After Hillbrow, Brooke joined School Field House at Rugby, which was his father’s house. There Brooke met Geoffrey Keynes. Both James and Geoffrey had older brothers who became members of the famous Bloomsbury group, most of whom were writers, artists and intellectuals. They were not his only link with the Bloomsbury group though. Rupert also met Virginia Stephen on a childhood holiday. She went on to marry Leonard Woolf and lead a successful career as a writer and a publisher, also being central to the Bloomsbury group.

Attending the school his father was master of, Rupert Brooke distinguished himself in various ways, including growing his hair longer than most of the other boys had theirs. While at Rugby, Brooke won the school prize for his poem ‘Bastille’. His interest in poetry was encouraged by his family. His mother had been so proud that his poem ‘The Pyramids’, written a year earlier, had received a special mention in a competition that she had it printed. His Aunt Fanny’s gifts included volumes of poetry by Keats. He also became friends with St. John Welles Lucas-Lucas, who introduced him to the work of Oscar Wilde.

In 1906, Rupert Brooke came up to Cambridge, becoming a member of King’s College, where his father had been the first non-Etonian Fellow. His uncle, Alan England Brooke was Dean, later to be Provost (head of the College). Despite his family’s strong association with the College, it seems it took Rupert a while to settle in. His letters and poems show that youth and aesthetics were among his primary concerns. He described the people he met in Cambridge as ‘dull old people’. It has also been suggested that the move to Cambridge came as a culture shock, due to the situation he had been in while at School Field House. Like most students, Rupert Brooke had to get used to being away from his parents but previously his home had also been his school. He would have had to adjust to the relative anonymity of his new life or find new ways to stand out.

Although he ‘matriculated’, or to put it another way, joined the University, to study Classics, his first love was English literature, which he focussed on later in his degree. He led an active life outside of lectures. As well as writing poetry, he developed a keen interest in drama. He had attended theatrical productions such as Peter Pan and thoroughly enjoyed them, so he relished the opportunity to take the stage in student productions at Cambridge. He played a herald in a production of the Greek play ‘Eumenides’, as well as taking an active role in the Marlowe Society in its early days. Considering himself a socialist, he joined a society called the Fabians, with his friend and fellow Kingsman Hugh Dalton.

Brooke’s popularity and links with figures like Keynes and Strachey, led to him becoming an ‘Apostle’. The Apostles are a secret society in Cambridge, most of whose members were at King’s College or Trinity College. At that time, they met and read papers to each other. Certain Apostles became Rupert Brooke’s closest friends in later life, not least Edward Marsh.

Rupert Brooke completed his B.A. in 1909, gaining a second class in both parts of the Tripos. Though he was said to have been disappointed not to achieve a first, this did not dampen his interest in literature.

In the summer of 1909, Brooke moved out of the town, to the nearby village of Grantchester, where he seems to have been happier. At first he lived at The Orchard. There he discovered a love of the outdoors. Virginia Woolf famously boasted of having gone skinny-dipping with him, in the river at Grantchester. He was closer to another group of friends though, who Woolf called the ‘neo-pagans’, possibly due to their love of the outdoors. This group included Rupert Brooke, Katherine Cox, the Olivier sisters, Jacques and Gwen Raverat, Frances Cornford and Justin Brooke. Despite sharing the same surname, Justin Brooke was not a relative of Rupert’s.

Biographers have given different accounts of Rupert Brooke’s sexuality, although it seems he was bisexual. It is now thought that his earliest affections were for boys at Rugby. It has been suggested that he first showed an interest in women at the age of twenty. His complicated relationships included one with Katherine Cox, known to her friends as Ka.

On 24 January 1910, William Parker Brooke, Rupert’s father, passed away. This meant that Rupert had to perform the duties of Housemaster at School House, Rugby, temporarily. His letters at this time suggest that while he understood what he ought to do, he was sorry to miss out on all of the activities he’d otherwise have done in Cambridge.

In August 1910, the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, became his new home.

In 1911 Brooke published his first ‘volume’, or book, of poems. Some of these poems were written during a three month trip to the continent earlier that year. In a café in Berlin, while visiting his friend Dudley Ward, Brooke wrote ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’. The trip also included visits to Munich and Florence. As with previous visits to the continent, such as family trips to Italy, Brooke immersed himself in the local culture but still felt homesick.

The following year he helped Edward Marsh plan the first of his Georgian Poetry anthologies (named for the young poets who achieved renown under King George Vth). He was also working on a short play called ‘Lithuania’, which was first performed in 1916, after Brooke’s death.

Brooke’s complicated love-life is said to have brought on a nervous breakdown in 1912. Ka Cox is thought to have had a miscarriage and Brooke felt jealous when James Strachey’s brother Lytton encouraged Ka to see Henry Lamb. His correspondence of this time has been described as rather coarse, expressing some views we would not consider acceptable by today’s standards.

Brooke’s dissertation ‘John Webster and the Elizabethan drama’ gained him his Fellowship at King’s College, in 1913.

Rupert left for Canada and the United States in May 1913. During his travels, he wrote for the Westminster Gazette. Although he is best known for his poetry, these examples of his prose were published posthumously as Letters from America. On his way back to Britain, he broke his journey with a tour of the South Seas, during which he had an affair with a Tahitian woman called Taatamata. There are some suggestions that she bore his child. He returned in June 1914, not long before he went to war.

When the war started, Brooke was keen to enlist. Geoffrey Keynes claimed that Rupert Brooke was jealous of him for having received a commission first. The extent to which Brooke experienced the hardships of war has been disputed. He received a commission as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division. He may have received this through the help of Edward Marsh, who had introduced him to Winston Churchill and the Asquith family. At this time, Brooke regularly wrote to Violet Asquith, whose father was Prime Minister. Brooke’s Battalion also included a member of the Asquith family. Thereafter he served at Antwerp. After Antwerp he wrote his five war sonnets, published as 1914. He trained for a winter at Blandford Camp and then joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in February of 1915. While sailing for Gallipoli, he suffered from sunstroke and blood poisoning. He died aboard a French hospital ship on the following 23 April and was buried on the Greek island of Skyros.

Brooke, William Parker (1850-1910)

William Parker Brooke, Rupert Brooke’s father, was the second son of the Rev. Canon Richard England Brooke, Rector of Bath, and Harriet Brooke (née Hopkins). He was educated at Kidderminster, then Haileybury. After finishing school he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, although he soon transferred to King’s College, where his brothers H.R. Brooke and Arthur England Brooke had studied. He gained a B.A. in 1873 and an M.A. in 1876. In 1873, he became a Fellow (senior academic) of King’s College. In the same year, he became Assistant Master at Fettes College, in Edinburgh. It was at a social gathering there that he met Mary Ruth Cotterill, the sister of Charles Clement Cotterill, master of Glencorse house, Fettes. She was a matron at Glencorse. After marrying Mary Ruth Cotterill in 1879, he became Master of School Field House at Rugby.

Brooke, William Alfred Cotterill ‘Podge’ (1891-1915)

Alfred, or ‘Podge’ as he was known to his family, was Rupert Brooke’s younger brother. Like Rupert, Alfred was educated at Rugby and King’s College, Cambridge. He was admitted to King’s in 1909, where he studied History. After graduating, in 1912, he went to London to work in business. He left this to serve in the 8th City of London (Post Office) Rifles during the Great War and was killed in action on 14 June 1915.


Churchill, Winston (1874-1965)

Winston Churchill was born on 30 November 1874. After attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Winston Churchill gained a commission in the 4th Hussars in February 1895 and first saw shots fired in action on his 21st birthday. He quickly became a popular and well paid war reporter. He joined Kitchener’s army in Egypt.

He resigned the army in 1899 to become a politician but was unsuccessful so went to South Africa as a war correspondent. In the Boers, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war. He quickly escaped to Durban, gained a reputation as a hero and regained a military commission from the Commander-in-Chief. He continued to write.

Churchill was first elected as an MP in 1900. He became the Conservative Member for Oldham in February 1901 but after four years he changed party, moving to the Liberals. He soon took his place in the Cabinet, becoming President of the Board of Trade in 1908 and acting as Home Secretary in 1910-11. He was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911-1915. He was much criticised for his part in planning the Gallipoli Campaign (25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916), during which many soldiers fell. Rupert Brooke died of blood poisoning on his way there.

In the early 1920s, Churchill rejoined the Conservative party. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1924 until 1929. When war broke our in September 1939, he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty again. Churchill became Prime Minister on 10 May 1940 and held this position until 1945. He served a second term as Prime Minister from 1951 to 55.

Recently, he has been remembered as a family man. He married Clemente Hozier in autumn 1908 and they had five children.

Cornford, Frances Crofts (née Darwin) (1886–1960)

Born in Cambridge on 30 March 1886, the poet Frances Cornford was the daughter of Sir Francis Darwin and Ellen Wordsworth Crofts, a lecturer in English at Newnham College, Cambridge. Frances’ father, a lecturer in Botany at Cambridge, was the third son of Charles Darwin. In the summer of 1908, Frances took part in the Marlowe Dramatic Society’s play Comus, during which she met Francis Macdonald Cornford, whom she married the following year. Conduit Head, their house in Cambridge, became popular with artists and men of letters. Frances’ first book of poems was published in 1910. Accolades include being awarded the queen’s medal for poetry in 1959.

Cornford, Francis Macdonald (1874–1943)

Francis Cornford was born at Eastbourne, in Sussex, on 27 February 1874. His parents were the Revd James Cornford and Mary Emma Macdonald. He was educated at St Paul’s School, then Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied Classics.

He supported the May 1897 campaign for women to receive degrees from Cambridge, although that proved unsuccessful.

At Cambridge, he became friends with Jane Harrison. It was she who introduced Francis Cornford to Frances Darwin, whom he married in July 1909. They had a daughter called Helena in 1913 and later they had a son called (Rupert) John Cornford.

Frances had been intrigued by an article he wrote entitled Microcosmographia academica, which took a light view of university politics. Initially it had been published anonymously. They got to know each other better as members of the Marlowe Society. Frances and Gwen Darwin persuaded the producers Rupert Brooke and Justin Brooke to cast Francis Cornford in the lead role of Comus.

During the First World War, Francis Cornford became a musketry instructor at Grantham, in Lincolnshire.

Francis Cornford’s academic career was in the study and lecturing of ancient philosophy.

Cotterill, Erica

Erica Cotterill was Rupert Brooke’s cousin. Her father, Charles Clement Cotterill, was Mary Ruth Brooke’s brother and a housemaster of Glencorse house, at Fettes School. Rupert Brooke’s father was also a teacher at Fettes, before moving to Rugby. She sometimes had meals with the boys at School Field house, at Rugby. She had asked to borrow the manuscript of Rupert Brooke’s first poem, The Pyramids. In May 1904, Rupert Brooke wrote to her, describing his first experience of meeting a poet. The anonymous poet was St John Lucas. They continued to write to each other and at times she was a confidante for Brooke, for example when he told her about his first few days at King’s College, Cambridge.

Cotterill, Mary Ruth

See Brooke, Mary Ruth.

Cox, Katherine Laird ‘Ka’

Ka Cox’s father was Henry Fisher Cox, a Fabian (member of the socialist Fabian Society) but also a successful stockbroker. Her mother died young. Ka had two sisters, Hester and Margaret. Her father remarried and had two more daughters. He died in 1905. At the time, she was 18 years old and became financially independent as a result.

She was a Neo-Pagan (a group of friends known for their Fabianism and enjoyment of the outdoors) and Rupert Brooke got to know her through Jacques Raverat and Justin Brooke. Rupert Brooke and Ka Cox worked together on the Young Fabians.

Rupert Brooke and Ka Cox were lovers and had a complicated relationship, which is said to have caused Brooke to have a nervous breakdown in 1912. Ka Cox is thought to have had a miscarriage and Brooke felt jealous when James Strachey’s brother Lytton encouraged Ka to see a painter named Henry Lamb.

Although the Neo-Pagans and the Bloomsbury group knew each other, they were quite distinct groups. Despite that, Ka Cox (Neo-Pagan) and Virginia Woolf (member of the Bloomsbury group) were close friends.


Dalton, (Edward) Hugh Neale (1887-1962)

Hugh Dalton was born at The Gnoll, near Neath, in Glamorgan, on 26 August 1887. After going to St George’s choir school at Windsor, he attended Eton College. In 1906, he matriculated at King’s College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics. There he became friends with Rupert Brooke and together they joined the Fabian Society (a socialist society founded in 1884, which has strong links to the Labour party).

Though he had matriculated in mathematics at Cambridge, in 1910 he was awarded an upper-second class degree in Economics. He moved to London that autumn to train in law at the Middle Temple. The following year he began his doctorate at the London School of Economics. In May 1914, he became a barrister and also married Ruth Fox.

During the First World War, he served in the Army Service Corps, before transferring to the Royal Artillery.

In 1920, he became a reader (a senior academic/lecturer) in economics at the London School of Economics. His research focussed on inequalities of income.

In 1924, he was elected as MP for Camberwell (Peckham division). Between 1929 and 1931, then 1935 and 1959, he represented the Bishop Auckland division as their MP. In 1925 he joined the shadow cabinet and the following year he was elected to the Labour Party’s national executive committee, which oversees the strategies and policies of the Labour Party. In 1935, he became the Labour Party’s foreign affairs spokesman.

During the Second World War, Prime Minister Winston Churchill made Hugh Dalton responsible for economic warfare, which meant preventing the enemy from getting supplies. In 1942, he was moved to the Board of Trade. Then, in 1945, he was moved to the Treasury, where he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In his memoirs, Hugh Dalton said of Rupert Brooke that ‘the radiance of his memory still lights my path’. He bequeathed his papers concerning Rupert Brooke to King’s College.

Darwin, Frances Crofts

See Cornford, Frances Crofts.

Dent, Edward (1876-1957)

Edward Dent was born at Ribson Hall, Wetherby, Yorkshire, on 16 July 1876. After studying at Eton College, he went up to King’s College, Cambridge. Initially, he studied classics, gaining a third in part one of the Tripos in 1898. His primary interest was music and he gained a MusB in 1899.

He was a Fellow at King’s College from 1902 until 1908, lecturing on music history. He also taught composition. His first book was Alessandro Scarlatti, published in 1905. He became professor of music at the University of Cambridge in 1926, holding this post until 1941. His interest was international music, in fact he made controversial remarks about Elgar. He brought the music of Mozart to a British audience, when it was largely unknown here. He translated his operas, as well as those of Verdi and certain other composers.

As a music critic, he wrote for The Athenaeum (which became The Nation and Athenaeum), as well as Cambridge magazines. He was active in the British Music Society and was a key figure in the International Society of Contemporary Music, acting as its first president. He served on the board of directors of Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Covent Garden Opera Trust. He was also the first President of the Liszt Society. He gained honorary doctorates from Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge universities. He died on 22 August 1957, at his home in London.

Dickinson, Goldsworthy Lowes ‘Goldie’ (1862–1932)

‘Goldie’, as his friends knew him, was the son of Lowes Cato Dickinson (1819–1908), a London-based portrait painter, described as a Christian socialist. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson was educated at Charterhouse and King’s College, Cambridge, where he studied Classics. He became a Fellow of the College in 1887, then Librarian from 1893-96 and Lecturer from 1896. He was also a member of the Apostles, a secret Cambridge debating society. He was a prolific writer but is best known as an advocate of the League of Nations, perhaps even having formed the idea behind its creation. He was a close friend of E.M. Forster and though not a member of the Bloomsbury group, he was associated with many of its members.


Eckersley, Arthur

Arthur Eckersley was a dramatist and a contributor to Punch. He accompanied St John Lucas to visit Rupert Brooke in May 1904, just after Brooke had written The Pyramid.


Forster, Edward Morgan (1879-1970)

Morgan Forster, as his friends knew him, was born on 1 January 1879. The following year, his father, Edward Morgan Llewellyn (Eddie) Forster, died and left sufficient money for him and his mother, Alice Clara (Lily) Forster, to live comfortably without the need for work.

Morgan Forster claimed his mother was smothering during his childhood. In 1890, Forster went to board at Kent House, an Eastbourne preparatory school, but his mother soon moved to Tonbridge, allowing him to become a day student. There he developed a love of Classics, winning a prize in Latin verse and English essay prizes. He came up to King’s College, Cambridge, in 1897, where he gained a second in the Classical Tripos and where Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson became a mentor to him.

As a student, he contributed to the King’s College magazine, Basileon, as well as starting to write a novel entitled Nottingham Lace, which he abandoned. He was also a member of the Apostles, a secret Cambridge debating society. Having gained a second class degree, he stayed for a fourth year to study history and then decided to travel with his mother.

First they went to Florence, in October 1901, which inspired his novel A Room with a View. They saw northern Italy and Austria before returning to London, where they lived in a hotel in Bloomsbury and Forster taught a weekly Latin class at the working men’s college in Great Ormond Street. He also went on a cruise around the Greek islands with fellow Kingsmen. It was then that he began to realise that he liked the companionship of other men. He had a chaste relationship with Hugh Owen Meredith.

Forster applied to the Cambridge University local lecturers board and between 1903 and 1911 he gave eleven courses entitled ‘The republic of Florence’ in various parts of East Anglia. A piece he wrote on Greece and a short story were published, and he worked on an early draft of A Room with a View. He moved to Weybridge, in Surrey, in 1904. It was there that he wrote his six novels. In spring 1905, he became a tutor in Germany. That summer, a short story was published in instalments in the Independent Review and that October his first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, was published.

He continued to write novels and his social circle expanded to include Edward Marsh, Rupert Brooke and many of the Bloomsbury group. A couple of years later, he taught Latin to Syed Ross Masood, a young Indian who was about to go to Oxford. He felt he loved him but knew it was not mutual. The publication of A Room with a View in 1908 made Forster famous. He began to work on Maurice but did not allow it to be published until after his death, as it was a homosexual love story written at a time when homosexuality was illegal.

After eight years of writing novels, he stopped writing and went to India, with Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson and R.C. Trevelyan as travel companions. In October 1912, they stayed with Masood and his family at Aligarh, then they spent Christmas with a friend from King’s College, called Malcolm Darling, and visited Masood in Bankipore. Around this time, Forster developed the idea for A Passage to India, which he wrote after returning to Weybridge. It is thought that the fictional city of Chandrapore in that novel is based on Bankipore.

After working part-time in the cataloguing department of the National Gallery, in October 1915 he went to Alexandria with the Red Cross, to search for missing soldiers. A poet called C.P. Cavafy then introduced Forster to Muhammed al-Adl, with whom he had an affair. At this time, he wrote articles, guidebooks and short stories, while finishing A Passage to India.

In 1921 he became private secretary to the maharaja of Dewas. In 1925, Forster and his mother moved to West Hackhurst, a house in Abinger Hammer, Surrey. They also had a place in London, where he could live more independently. He regularly wrote for publications like The Criterion, as well as delivering a series of lectures in Cambridge, later published as Aspects of the Novel.

He was elected to a supernumerary fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge. He formed a relationship with the policeman Bob Buckingham. He also protested about the banning of a book entitled The Well of Loneliness. He became the first President of the National Council for Civil Liberties, as well as sitting on the Lord Chancellor’s committee on defamatory libel.

During the Second World War, Forster wrote essays and appeared on radio, discussing subjects such as freedom and tolerance. After his mother’s death in March 1945, Forster was unable to stay in West Hackhurst and was offered an honorary fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge, where he resided until his death in May 1970.

Forster refused to be knighted, in 1949; however, he did become a Companion of Honour in 1953 and received the Order of Merit on his ninetieth birthday.


Hassall, Christopher (1912-63)

The son of John Hassall, the painter and illustrator, and Constance Maud Webb, Christopher Hassall was born on 24 March 1912, in London. He was educated at Brighton College, then Wadham College, Oxford. He left Oxford during his finals, due to financial problems. At Oxford, he played Romeo in an Oxford University Dramatic Society production of Romeo and Juliet.

In 1933, he toured with Ivor Novello, performing in Proscenium. Novello asked Hassall to write lyrics for his melodies. He also introduced Hassall to Edward Marsh. Hassall started to write poetry, for which Marsh was a critic. Hassall wrote plays, librettos for operas, poems and biographies. His Out of the Whirlwind (1953) was the first secular play to be performed in Westminster Abbey since the Restoration. He wrote biographies of Stephen Haggard, Edward Marsh and Rupert Brooke. His biography on Marsh was critically acclaimed and won the James Tait memorial prize. Rupert Brooke: a Biography was published posthumously.

In the 1938, Hassall married Evelyn Helen Lynett Hill, with whom he had a son and a daughter. Hassall was commissioned in 1941 and became a major in the army education corps.

Hassall was a councillor and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a governor of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He died on 25 April 1963, following a heart attack he suffered on a train.


Inge, William Ralph (1860–1954)

Born in Yorkshire, in 1860, William Ralph Inge was the son of William Inge and Susanna Mary Churton. He won a scholarship at Eton in 1874, before becoming a scholar at King’s College in 1879, where he received a first in both parts of the Tripos and also received various awards. After graduating, he spent four years teaching at Eton before being ordained in 1888.

Prior to becoming a priest, he had held religious doubts. As a priest, he felt Christianity must focus on personal experience of God and mysticism (union with God through prayer and contemplation), rather than miracles. During his time as vicar of All Saints’ Church in Ennismore Gardens, London, he married Mary Catherine Spooner. In 1907, he became Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.

In 1911, Prime Minister Asquith appointed him dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, in London. This appointment may have been due in part to Inge’s literary interests, for he wrote weekly columns for the Evening Standard. Dean Inge quoted Rupert Brooke's poem 'The soldier' in his sermon on Easter Day, 4 April 1915. After Rupert Brooke’s death on 23 April 1915, Dean Inge was one of the first to console Brooke’s mother, sending her the manuscript of the sermon.

Later, he too would experience the loss of his children, as well as his wife. He was knighted in 1930. Though not a pacifist, he opposed entry into the Second World War on the basis that he felt Britain had no quarrel with Germany.


Keynes, Geoffrey (1887-1982)

Geoffrey Keynes was born in Cambridge on 25 March 1887. His father was (John) Neville Keynes, a lecturer in moral science, and his mother was Florence Ada Keynes. Though his older brother, the economist (John) Maynard Keynes, is better known, Geoffrey Keynes led a distinguished career as both a surgeon and a literary scholar.

He went to Rugby School in 1901, where he met Rupert Brooke, before going up to Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1906. There he studied natural sciences and received a first in part one of the Tripos in 1909. He gained an MA in 1913.

After Cambridge, he trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, where he won a scholarship in surgery. During the First World War, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was a pioneer in blood transfusion. On 12 May 1917, he married Margaret Elizabeth Darwin, daughter of Sir George Howard Darwin. During the Second World War, Keynes was a consulting surgeon to the RAF, reaching the rank of Acting Air Vice-Marshal in 1944.

Through Rupert Brooke, he had developed an interest in seventeenth-century poetry. He wrote on William Blake. He edited volumes by John Donne, John Evelyn, William Harvey and others. He also compiled bibliographies of writers such as Jane Austin, Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon. He wrote a biography on William Harvey (1966), then one on Rupert Brooke (1968). He was appointed as a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery in 1942 and was its chairman from 1958 to 1966. Other interests included ballet and book collecting.

He gained various honorary degrees, including ones from both Cambridge and Oxford. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy in 1980. He died in Brinkley, near Cambridge, on 5 July 1982.

Keynes, John Maynard (1883-1946)

John Maynard Keynes was born in Cambridge on 5 June 1883, the son of Florence and Dr. John Neville Keynes, Fellow of Pembroke College and later University Registrar. Geoffrey Keynes, his younger brother, was a friend of Rupert Brooke’s. He was educated at Eton, and came up to King's College, Cambridge as a scholar in 1902. He was also a member of the Apostles, a secret Cambridge debating society.

After he was awarded his undergraduate degree, he entered the Home Civil Service and served for two years at the India Office.  He left the civil service in 1908, however, and in 1909 was elected a Fellow of King's College and remained so until his death.  He was lecturer in Economics from 1911 to 1937 and in 1919 he also accepted the post of Second Bursar of the college.  In 1924 he began his memorable tenure as First Bursar, changing completely the philosophy by which the college managed its assets, and in 1925, he married Lydia Lopokova.

Despite his retirement from the India Office, Keynes was to be found in London almost as often as in Cambridge, placing his services at the disposal of his government, particularly when called upon by the Treasury.  He served on a number of government committees in the 1920s and ‘30s, but - as with everyone else - it was during the two world wars that most was demanded of him.

During World War I he became a civil servant in the Treasury and by 1917 had gained a position of some responsibility. He was the Treasury's representative at the peace conference that ended the war. At the invitation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Keynes placed his services at the disposal of his country again in 1940, after war had broken out a second time. As an advisor to the Treasury, he was much involved in both the problems of war finance and plans for the later transition from war to peace.

Among other things, Keynes acted as one of the negotiators of Lend-Lease, and played a leading part at the Bretton Woods conference.  He was rewarded for his services during the first war with a C.B. (a form of knighthood), and for those during the second by elevation to the peerage, becoming Baron Keynes of Tilton.

It was not as a servant of college or country, however, that Keynes has made his name, but as a brilliant and original economist. Keynes was a prolific writer who shunned his colleagues' attempts to create an economic 'grand theory' in favour of short works that addressed the fiscal problems of the day as quickly and competently as possible. In the process he did, nevertheless, create something lasting - what we now call Keynesian economics - the cornerstone of which were his theories on saving and investment, and their relation to rising and falling prices. These were elaborated in his Treatise on money (1930) and his later General theory of employment, interest and money (1936). Through his leadership in a number of societies and his editorship of the Economic Journal he had great influence on the next generation of economists, and through his editorship of the Nation and Athenaeum and New Statesman and Nation he influenced his contemporaries more widely.

He died on Easter Sunday, 21 April 1946, after several years of ill-health.


Lucas, St John

Rupert Brooke spent much of the summer of 1904 in bed, as a result of an infected throat. That May, he was visited by St John Lucas and Arthur Eckersley. St John Welles Lucas-Lucas, to give him his full name, was educated at Oakfield, a school in Rugby, then Haileybury School, before going to University College, Oxford. He was a few years older than Brooke and lived in Middle Temple, London. They became friends and regularly wrote to each other; however, more importantly, St John Lucas became a mentor to Brooke. Brooke’s letters to him often included poetry and, being a poet himself, St John Lucas was able to offer a kind of criticism which he may not have received from anyone else. He also influenced Brooke’s tastes, introducing him to the works of various French writers such as Baudelaire, as well as Oscar Wilde.

Lucas and Eckersley were aware of fashions in literature, especially what was known as ‘decadence’. Brooke had been concerned that many of those he spoke to about the arts were ‘philistines’ so their influence must have given him some comfort. This influence was not always considered a good thing though. In particular, when considering whether or not to elect Rupert Brooke to the Apostles, Lytton Strachey referred to them as ‘Bobbie Longman’ and was critical of their influence on Brooke.


Marsh, Edward (1872-1953)

Edward Howard Marsh was born on 18 November 1872, son of Frederick Howard Marsh and Jane Marsh. He was educated at Westminster School, then Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained first classes in both parts of the classical tripos. He was also a member of the Apostles, a secret Cambridge debating society. Through Maurice Baring and Edmund Gosse, Marsh was admitted to a literary circle in London.

In 1896, Marsh was appointed a junior clerk in the Australian department of the Colonial Office. He was soon promoted. Marsh was working in the West African department when Winston Churchill became parliamentary under-secretary for the colonies. Churchill asked him to become his private secretary and for the next twenty-three years Marsh worked alongside him, in various offices. When Churchill was on active service in the army, Marsh became assistant private secretary to Prime Minister Asquith. In July 1917, he was employed by Churchill again, during Churchill’s time as Minister of Munitions and Secretary of State for War. He also worked for Churchill in the Colonial Office and later, the Treasury.

After meeting an art student called Neville Lytton, Marsh became a connoisseur of art. He collected works by English watercolourists, then in 1911 he bought a painting by Duncan Grant. This led to him becoming a patron of contemporary British painting. He also met several artists from Slade School of Fine Art, including John Currie and Mark Gertler.

He played host to artists and poets, in his London apartment. From 1913, Rupert Brooke spent much of his time there. His association with poets such as Brooke led to his creation of an anthology of modern verse, entitled Georgian Poetry (because they wrote during the early years of the reign of King George V). Among the poets included were Rupert Brooke, Lascelles Abercrombie, Walter de la Mare and D.H. Lawrence. Later, he developed an interest in the war poetry of Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves.

When Rupert Brooke died in 1915, Marsh became his literary executor, until 1934. At that time, he edited Brooke’s posthumous prose and verse. His work did not always please Rupert Brooke’s mother.

Later in life, Marsh published translations of French and Latin works. He became a trustee of the Tate Gallery and a governor of the Old Vic theatre. Committees he joined included those of the Contemporary Arts Society and the council of the Royal Society of Literature.


Olivier, Nöel

Nöel Olivier was born on 25 December 1892, the youngest of Sydney Olivier and his wife Margaret’s four daughters. Her father was an early member of the Fabian society (a socialist society founded in 1884, which has strong links to the Labour party).

He worked as a Colonial Secretary in British Honduras and later as Governor of Jamaica, which meant the Olivier family were often abroad; however they did set up home at The Champions at Limpsfield Chart, in Surrey. There, their neighbours and Nöel’s closest friends included ‘Bunny’ Garnett, who later joined the Bloomsbury group.

The Olivier girls were sent to board at Bedales School, which had a reputation for being progressive, encouraging its students to spend time outdoors and encouraging sexual equality. Other Bedales students included Jacques Raverat and Ferenc Békássy (a Hungarian poet).

Rupert Brooke first met Nöel Olivier on 10 May 1908, when her father was invited to speak to the Cambridge Fabians. He was twenty and she was fifteen. After this they wrote letters to each other and met whenever they could, including at a picnic, a group skiing holiday in Klosters and at a cottage in the New Forest.


Pye, Ethel

Ethel Pye has been described as a fringe member of the Neo-Pagans (a group of friends known for their Fabianism and enjoyment of the outdoors). A neighbour of the Olivier sisters at Limpsfield, she visited Grantchester and spent time with them, Rupert Brooke and the other Neo-pagans.


Raverat, Gwen (née Darwin)(1885-1957)

Granddaughter of Charles Darwin, the artist Gwen Raverat was born in Cambridge, in 1885. Her father was an astronomer, called Sir George Howard Darwin, and her mother was Maud du Puy, of Philadelphia. In 1908, Gwen Raverat went to Slade School of Art, where she learned painting before teaching herself wood-engraving. It is the latter for which she is best known.

Before the First World War, she was part of a group of friends known as the ‘Neo-Pagans’ (a group of friends known for their Fabianism and enjoyment of the outdoors), which included Rupert Brooke. She fell in love with Jacques Pierre Raverat and persuaded him to go to Slade with her. She carried out graphic work for the Admiralty during the Second World War. She also created designs for theatres.

She illustrated Frances Cornford’s book of poems entitled Spring Morning (1915) but most of her work was on individual prints, which were widely exhibited. In 1920, she became a founder member of the Society of Wood Engravers. In later life, she also became known as a writer, primarily of art criticism.

Raverat, Jacques Pierre (1885-1925)

Jacques Pierre Raverat was born in Provence, France, but educated at Bedales School, in England, along with other members of what were to be known as the ‘Neo-Pagans’  (a group of friends known for their Fabianism and enjoyment of the outdoors). He studied mathematics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. His other friends included Geoffrey Keynes. Though he was said to have been attracted to ‘Ka’ Cox, he married Gwen Darwin in 1911. Virginia Woolf was a guest at their wedding. Jacques Raverat enjoyed painting and by 1909 it was taking up most of his time.


Strachey, Giles Lytton (1880-1932)

Lytton Strachey was a biographer and essayist, best known for Eminent Victorians, a collection of satirical biographical essays published in 1918. He was also a member of the Bloomsbury group and his brother James was Rupert Brooke’s friend. Lytton Strachey, who studied history at Trinity College, Cambridge He was also a member of the Apostles, a secret Cambridge debating society. Lytton Strachey, his friend Maynard Keynes and his brother James, were instrumental in getting Rupert Brooke elected as an Apostle.

Strachey, James (1887-1967)

James Strachey was a friend of Rupert Brooke’s, a psychoanalyst and a translator. He was born on 26 September 1887, the youngest of thirteen children of Sir James Strachey and Jane Maria Strachey. His brothers included Lytton Strachey. James Strachey was taught at home until the age of ten, when he was sent to Hillbrow School. His older cousin, Duncan Grant, was already there. It was at Hillbrow that James Strachey became friends with Rupert Brooke.

After Hillbrow, James went to St Paul’s school in London. After this he followed in his brother Lytton’s footsteps and went up to Trinity College, Cambridge. He was also a member of the Apostles, a secret Cambridge debating society. He was reunited with his friend Rupert Brooke, whom he was said to have become attracted to. Brooke tended to keep his friends in the Apostles and his Neo-Pagan (a group of friends known for their Fabianism and enjoyment of the outdoors) friends separate, so James Strachey was never accepted into the Neo-Pagans, though he had met them.

His friendship with Rupert Brooke suffered in 1912, possibly due to the effect Brooke’s breakup with ‘Ka’ Cox had had upon him. Brooke’s letters to James Strachey took a different, much less friendly tone. After graduating, Strachey became assistant editor of The Spectator.

After Rupert Brooke’s death, in 1915, James Strachey became attracted to both Noel Olivier and Alix Sargant-Florence, though it was the latter whom he married. He developed an interest in Freud’s psychoanalysis and joined the Society for Psychical Research in 1912. After a few weeks of analysis, Freud asked him to translate his works into English.

Strachey, Lytton

See Strachey, Giles Lytton.


Thatcher, Lady Margaret (nee Roberts) (1925-2013)

Margaret Hilda Roberts was born on 13 October 1925, in Grantham, Lincolnshire. After studying at Oxford University, she became a research chemist, then a barrister. In 1951, she married Denis Thatcher and they had two children.

Margaret Thatcher became MP for Finchley, North London, in 1959. Between 1964 and 1970 she held various positions in the shadow cabinet. When the Conservatives took power, she became Secretary for Education.

In 1974, the Conservatives lost the election and Margaret Thatcher challenged Edward Heath for the leadership of the party and won. She led them to victory in the 1979 general election and became Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

She was a controversial Prime Minister, who is admired by many but also much criticised. Her policies included the privitisation of state-owned industries, trade union reform and the reduction of public spending. She also introduced Poll Tax. Despite winning three terms in office, there was a leadership challenge in 1990, after which she resigned her leadership and John Major became Prime Minister.

In 1992, she became a peeress in the House of Lords. Three years later, she became a member of the Order of the Garter, the highest form of knighthood.

Lady Thatcher died of a stroke on 8 April 2013. A ceremonial funeral was held on 17 April 2013, in accordance with her wishes.


Ward, Dudley

Dudley Ward was a Neo-Pagan (a group of friends known for their Fabianism and enjoyment of the outdoors) and it has been said that Rupert Brooke was fond of him but that he was shy, which perhaps meant he was on the fringes of that group of friends. He studied Economics at St John’s College, Cambridge. Like his friend Rupert Brooke, Dudley Ward was a Fabian (a socialist society founded in 1884, which has strong links to the Labour party). Brooke and Ward travelled through Hampshire and Dorset together, campaigning for Poor Law reform.

Woolf, Virginia (nee Stephen) (1882-1941)

Virginia Woolf was a novelist, essayist, biographer and critic, well known for her "modernist" style of writing. Her most famous books include the novel Mrs. Dalloway and the essay A Room of One’s Own. She was a key member of the Bloomsbury group. She was a little older than Rupert Brooke but they had known each other since they played together as children on holiday at St Ives, in Cornwall. Later, she visited him in Grantchester, where they swam in the river. She was friends with Ka Cox. When Edward Marsh’s Rupert Brooke: A Memoir was published, along with his collected poems, Woolf wrote an anonymous review of the book, which was published in the Times Literary Supplement.


These biographies have been written using information found in sources such as the books on Rupert Brooke and the Neo-Pagans written by Hassall, Hale and Delany, as well as the biographies in the Dictionary of National Biography, Withers’ A Register of Admissions to King’s College Cambridge 1797-1925, and Alan and Veronica Palmer’s Who’s Who in Bloomsbury. For further details of these sources, please see the Bibliography.

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Shelf of books relating to Rupert Brooke
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