Cambridgeshire

Cambridge college buys 'major' Rupert Brooke collection

Peter Jones & manuscript
Image caption Peter Jones said it is hard to realise just how significant Brooke's impact was 100 years ago

A "major collection" of documents relating to the World War One poet Rupert Brooke has been bought by his Cambridge University college.

King's College has acquired "the last great collection of Rupert Brooke manuscripts still in private hands".

The John Schroder Collection was bought for £500,000, mostly funded by a National Heritage Memorial Fund award.

They reveal he was "more interesting and difficult" than "the heroic image portrayed at the time of his death".

Image copyright King's College, Cambridge/BBC
Image caption Rupert Brooke died of septicaemia on his way to Gallipoli in 1915

The poet, who was a student and Fellow at King's, died of septicaemia on his way to Gallipoli, on 23 April 1915.

The Schroder Collection includes 170 documents by Brooke, hundreds of letters from people connected with him and eyewitness reports of his death and burial on the Greek island of Skyros.

King's College Fellow Librarian, Peter Jones, said: "A much more complicated and rounded picture emerges when you can look at the manuscripts already at King's, alongside the Schroder Collection.

"We now know much more about Brooke and he is certainly more interesting and, in some ways more difficult, than the heroic image portrayed at the time of his death."

Image copyright King's College, Cambridge
Image caption King's College said by the 1950s John Schroder was a "committed" collector of Brooke's papers

After his death, his friend Eddie Marsh published 1914 and Other Poems and it became "a huge literary event", selling 160,000 copies.

In 1918, he published a memoir of Brooke which sold more than 100,000 copies.

Mr Jones said: "Some of Rupert Brooke's family and closest friends... thought the picture that emerged from this heroic story was not true to the man.

"He had a major breakdown in 1912 and had disastrous relationships with the women who loved him."

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