The images shown here represent a selection from the
Schroder Collection, highlighting the friendships between
Rupert Brooke, Edward Marsh and William Denis Browne. They show
approximately half of the collection.
Each of these three figures had a significant impact within
the arts, albeit cut short by war in the cases of Brooke and
Denis Browne. Views on Brooke are constantly changing. Marsh is
often remembered for his Memoir on Brooke, rather than his
other achievements. Denis Browne has received relatively little
attention, in comparison. These limitations within existing
biography and the fact that the Schroder papers were a private
collection until 2015 mean that despite the majority of the
material presented here having been written more than a century
ago, the papers still present a significant opportunity for
Occasional notes and pencil annotations within the Schroder
collection shed additional light on their provenance, for
example there is a card by John Schroder inside Rupert Brooke’s
attaché case and a pencil annotation also believed to be by
Schroder in the guard book containing Brooke’s letter to
Lascelles Abercrombie. The only marks added by archivists since
the papers were acquired are the reference numbers, starting ‘
RCB/S/…’. It is unclear who foliated the guard books, although
this may have been done by John Schroder.
Rupert Chawner Brooke was once compared to Apollo. He was
famous for his good looks and his poetry, not least his
patriotic war poems. Scholarly interest in him has not waned
but the focus of this interest has shifted from his work to his
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.
In 1906, Brooke came up to Cambridge, becoming a member of
King’s College, where his father had been the first
non-Etonian Fellow. Although he matriculated as a student
of Classics, his first love was English literature, which
he focussed on later in his degree. He took an active role
in the Greek plays and Marlowe Society in its early days.
He was also a Fabian and a member of the secret society
known as ‘The Apostles’.
Rupert Brooke completed his B.A. in 1909, gaining a second
class in both parts of the Tripos.
In the summer of 1909, Brooke moved out of Cambridge, to
the nearby village of Grantchester. At first he lived at
The Orchard. There he often spent time outdoors with the
'Neo-pagans'. This group also included Katherine Cox, the
Olivier sisters, Jacques and Gwen Raverat, Frances Cornford
and Justin Brooke (who was no relation to Rupert, but they
did collaborate on the Greek plays).
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,
In August 1910, the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, became his
In 1911 Brooke published his 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
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 V). 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 was jealous when Lytton Strachey
encouraged Ka to see Henry Lamb.
Brooke’s dissertation ‘John Webster and the Elizabethan
drama’ gained him his Fellowship at King’s College, in
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
He received a commission as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Hood
Battalion of the Royal Naval Division in January 1915. 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 23 April and was
buried on the Greek island of Skyros.
Edward Marsh (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. 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,
Marsh first met Brooke on 30 November 1906, in Cambridge,
after a Greek Play Committee performance of
Eumenides. Marsh had been there as a guest of his
former tutor, A.W. Verral of Trinity College. Brooke had
played a herald.
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
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. 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. In 1918, he published The
Collected Poems of Rupert Brooke, with a Memoir.
Marsh’s biography was the subject of much discussion among
Brooke’s friends and his mother (Mary Ruth Brooke). She
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
While it was popular with the general public and much of
the press, the Memoir did have its critics. 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 (not part of the Schroder Collection) suggests
that Woolf was the author of the review. This was one of
the earliest examples of public criticism of Marsh’s
Memoir; however, it was definitely not the last.
Along with Churchill, in whose name an obituary of Brooke
had been published in The Times, Marsh has been
seen as one of the people most responsible for the ‘myth’
surrounding Rupert Brooke.
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.
William Denis Browne (1888-1915)
William Charles Denis Browne was born on 3 November 1888
in Leamington Spa. He was the youngest of William Denis
Browne and Louisa Hackett’s five children. To family, he
was known as ‘Billy’, while friends called him ‘Denis’
(though his surname is in fact Denis Browne).
Denis Browne was a friend of Rupert Brooke’s at Rugby
School (1903) and at Cambridge (1907), although he went
to Clare College, where he was organ scholar from 1910 to
1912. He graduated in Classics and gained a MusB in 1912.
Both Brooke and Denis Browne were involved in the Marlow
Dramatic Society, not least a production of Comus.
Denis Browne sang in the chorus of Ralph Vaughan
Williams's The Wasps, and played On Wenlock
Edge and Hugh the Drover while they were
still works in progress. Vaughan Williams wrote a
reference for Denis Browne, in which he said he had 'a
most musical nature and his artistic judgement and
perception are remarkable' (1911). This helped to secure
a teaching position at Repton, in April 1912. He
dedicated the motet God is our strength and song
(1912) to the school. After this, he moved to London and
succeeded Clive Carey as organist of Guy's Hospital in
Most of Denis Browne’s known compositions are song
settings: Move Eastward, Happy Earth
(A. Tennyson), ?1909; The Snowdrop (A.
Tennyson), ?1909; The isle of lost dreams (W.
Sharp), ?1909; Dream-Tryst (F. Thompson), 1909;
Diaphenia (H. Chettle), 1912; Epitaph on
Salathiel Pavy (B. Jonson), 1912; To Gratiana
dancing and singing (R. Lovelace), 1913;
Arabia (W. de la Mare), 1914; God is our
Strength and Song (J. Montgomery), SSATB, 1912. His
work on a ballet entitled The Comic Spirit,
intended for Bristol's Theatre Royal, was interrupted by
On 11th March 1913, Brooke introduced Denis Browne to
Marsh at a dinner after Pétrouchka at Covent
Garden. Roger Fry and Francis Toye were also at the
dinner. Marsh and Denis Browne quickly became close
Denis Browne became a music critic for Rhythm,
of which Brooke was on the committee and Marsh was a
patron, as well as writing articles for The
Times (1913–14) and the New Statesman
Rupert Brooke wrote 'An Easter-day Song in Praise of
Cremation' (1906) and 'The Dance' (1915) for Denis
Like Brooke, Denis Browne joined the Royal Naval
division. He directed the Hood Battalion Band. After
Brooke’s death, he chose Brooke's Skyros grave and wrote
an account of the burial. He was shot through the neck on
8 May 1915, then chose to returned to the front before he
was fully fit. He was killed in action on 4 June 1915 and
his body was never retrieved. Following Denis Browne’s
death, his manuscripts were destroyed by Dent.
The Schroder Collection contains writings by Brooke,
the records of his publication history, hundreds of
letters between Brooke and others, and reports from
eyewitnesses of his death and burial on the Greek
island of Skyros.
John Schroder was 'an enthusiastic collector indulging
in his favourite pastime'. He started collecting Brooke
material in 1952, bought Sir Edward Marsh's papers from
Christopher Hassall in 1957 and continued to collect
throughout his life.
The papers were acquired by King’s College for
£500,000, on the centenary of Rupert Brooke’s death.
The acquisition was made possible by an award of
£430,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund
(NHMF), as well as additional grants including one from
the Friends of the National Libraries.
The digitisation of the selected items from the
Schroder papers and their inclusion on the Digital
Library has been made possible by a grant from the
Friends of the National Libraries.
Thought to have been the largest collection of Rupert
Brooke papers in private hands, the Schroder papers
have now been added to King’s College’s own extensive
collection of the papers of Rupert Chawner Brooke. The
full catalogue of King’s College’s holdings concerning
Rupert Brooke (besides College papers, such as his
entries in our matriculation and senior tutor’s
records) can be seen here
The digitisation of the selection of papers from the
Schroder Collection which are shown here has been made
possible courtesy of a grant from the Friends of the
We would like to thank Harriet Alder, Mandy Marvin,
Thelma May and Maddie McDonagh for volunteering their
time to list the items within these guard books.
Hassall, C. Edward Marsh: patron of the arts: a
biography. London: Longmans, 1959.
Hassall, C. Rupert Brooke: a biography.
London: Faber, 1964 (1984 [printing]).
Marsh, E. Rupert Brooke: a memoir. London:
Sidgwick & Jackson, Limited, 1918.
Schroder, J. Collecting Rupert Brooke.
Over, Cambridge: Rampant Lions Press, 1992.
Unless otherwise stated, copyright in the material
presented here belongs to the estates of Rupert
Brooke, Edward Marsh, William Denis Browne and John
The majority of the images made available for
download are licensed under a ‘
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license
(CC BY-NC 4.0)’. Exceptions will be noted at the item
level but please note the following.
Anyone wishing to quote from letters written by Marsh
for any commercial purpose must obtain a licence from
David Higham Associates.
Permission must be sought from the estate of Bernard
Freyberg before the two letters from B. Freyberg to
Marsh (RCB/S/6/2/152b and RCB/S/6/2/152c) are quoted
Some images have been presented here with Orphan
Works licences or using the EU Directive. That
permission is specific to this resource and not
transferrable. These are not downloadable but may be
seen here. Anyone wishing to quote from those or
reproduce them may have to seek similar licences.
In some cases, there will be a description without
any images. Those items could not be reproduced here,
usually for copyright reasons, but may be consulted
in the King’s College Archive Centre (see Visiting
the Archive Centre