Rupert Chawner Brooke was born at 5 Hillmorton Road, Rugby, Warwickshire on 3rd August, 1887, the third of four children.
Brooke attended preparatory school near-by at Hillbrow, and then went on to Rugby School. In 1905, he became friends with St. John Lucas, who thereafter became something of a mentor to him. While travelling in Europe he worked on a thesis "John Webster and the Elizabethan Drama", which won him a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge. Once there Brooke became a member of the Apostles, was elected as President of the Fabian Society, and helped found the Marlowe Society drama club. The friendships he made during his education were an essential part of his future years and many fell under the magic that he seemed to weave. Virginia Woolf confided to Vita Sackville-West of once going skinny-dipping with Brooke in a moonlit pool when they were in Cambridge together. This is but one of the many stories that seemed to surround him.
In 1907, his eldest brother Dick died of pneumonia at age 26. Brooke at once wanted to stop studying to help his devastated parents cope with this tragedy, but they insisted he return to school.
Amongst the Bloomsbury group of writers and artists he blossomed. Many admired his talents but others were rather keener on his good looks.
Brooke was also part of the Georgian Poets and one of the most important of the Dymock poets, the Gloucestershire village of Dymock where he spent time before the war.
In 1912 Brooke suffered a severe emotional crisis caused by his bisexuality and jealousy. This caused his long-term relationship with Katherine ‘Ka’ Laird Cox to breakdown and the result of that was nervous collapse and trips to Germany for rehabilitation.
Whilst in Berlin and feeling dreadfully homesick he penned his classic; The Old Vicarage, Grantchester.
As part of his recuperation, Brooke toured the United States and Canada to write travel diaries for the Westminster Gazette. Travelling back to England via the Pacific he wrote much fine verse on the journey sailing across the Pacific and during his stay of some months in the South Seas.
In August 1914 War broke out in Europe and Brooke enlisted.
Brooke was commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a temporary Sub-Lieutenant shortly after his 27th birthday and took part in the Royal Naval Division's Antwerp expedition in October 1914.
He sailed with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 28th February 1915 but en-route developed sepsis from an infected mosquito bite.
On March 11th The Times Literary Supplement published two sonnets; IV: The Dead and V: The Soldier. They captured the Nation’s attention with their eloquence and tribute.
Rupert Chawner Brooke died in the early hours of 23rd April 1915, on a French hospital ship, moored in a bay off the Greek island of Skyros in the Aegean Sea. Brooke was buried at 11 pm in an olive grove on Skyros. The site was chosen by his close friend, William Denis Browne, who wrote of Brooke's death: “I sat with Rupert. At 4 o’clock he became weaker, and at 4.46 he died, with the sun shining all round his cabin, and the cool sea-breeze blowing through the door and the shaded windows. No one could have wished for a quieter or a calmer end than in that lovely bay, shielded by the mountains and fragrant with sage and thyme”.
His poetry book containing his sonnets, 1914 & Other Poems, was first published in May 1915 and proved immensely popular.
On 11th November 1985, Brooke was among 16 First World War poets commemorated on a slate monument unveiled in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.