Rupert Chawner Brooke was born on 3rd August 1887 at Hillmorton Road, Rugby, the second of three sons of William Parker Brooke (1850-1910), a master at Rugby School, and his wife, Mary Ruth Brooke (1848–1930), daughter of the Reverend Charles Cotterill of Stoke-on-Trent.
Rupert attended Hillbrow preparatory school, 1897-1901, followed by Rugby School, where his father had become housemaster of School Field in Barby Road. From 1906 to 1909, he read classics at King’s College, Cambridge. After leaving the University, where he had become friends with many of those in the ‘Bloomsbury Group’, he moved to the village of Grantchester, near Cambridge, which he celebrated in his poem, ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’ (1912). In 1911 his first collection of poems was published, and in 1913, became a fellow of his old college.
Following the outbreak of WW1, Brooke obtained in September 1914 a commission with the Royal Naval Division. Shortly afterwards he was at the siege of Antwerp where he experienced little action. Following this introduction to the war, he wrote the five war sonnets that were arguably the first of his writings to make him famous. In February 1915 he sailed with the division for the Dardanelles, via Egypt, but before he could be involved with that disastrous campaign, he developed septicaemia from a mosquito bite received whilst on board ship. He died on 23 April 1915 on a hospital ship off the Greek island of Skyros and was buried on the island in a grave that is still maintained by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission. In addition to being named on the Memorial Gates at Whitehall Road, he is also remembered by the following monumental inscription on his parents’ grave in Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby:
“R I P” Rupert Brooke died April 23 1915 aged 27 years. “Here lies the servant of God, Sub Lieut in the English Navy who died for the deliverance of Constantinople from the Turks, buried in Skyros”.
Today he is best remembered for the following opening lines of his poem, “The Soldier”, one of the war sonnets:
“If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. …”
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM