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Swooning over Rupert Brooke | Katharine Whitehorn

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The First World War poets stirred the imagination not just with their words but also with their photographs

Ten days ago the Times headlined the fact that Rupert Brooke was a womaniser. I look forward to them revealing the number of Henry VIII’s wives any time soon. The paper published pictures of two of Brooke’s loves after a vast collection of letters and documents gathered for King’s College Cambridge revealed the poet’s many liaisons and his lack of interest in marriage.

The admiration of those who associate Brooke only with dying in Greece in the First World War, it seems, has prevented much consideration of his romantic side, but I’d have thought the poems alone were testimony enough to indicate his attitude: “Your hands, my dear, adorable/ Your lips of tenderness/ Oh, I’ve loved you faithfully and well/ Three years, or a bit less/ It wasn’t a success” quickly followed by “And I shall find some girl perhaps/ And a better one than you/ With eyes as wise, but kindlier/ And lips as soft, but true/ And I daresay she will do.”

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