Tag Archives: Rupert Brooke

Call for volunteers to help digitise selected Rupert Brooke papers

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Rupert Brooke in uniform, at Blandford, Dorset. 1914. Print by W. Hazel of Bournemouth.
Archive Centre, King’s College, Cambridge. RCB/Ph/262

We are pleased to announce that the Archive Centre has been awarded a grant of £2,797 by the Friends of the National Libraries towards the cost of digitising significant parts of the Schroder collection. These papers are thought to have been the largest collection of Rupert Brooke archives to be held privately until we purchased them in 2015, with grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries, as well as further donations by friends of the library through the Munby Centenary Fund. The Schroder papers now form a series within our main Rupert Brooke collection. The fact they were acquired so much later than the rest of the collection means they still hold considerable potential for original research, having only been seen by privileged biographers before they came to King’s.

Most of the items selected for digitisation are correspondence between Rupert Brooke (RCB), Edward Marsh (RCB’s friend, literary executor and biographer) and William Denis Browne (RCB’s friend and a young composer, who died at Gallipoli only days after burying RCB). A famous letter RCB wrote to Lascelles Abercrombie (possibly the last thing RCB ever wrote), RCB’s attaché case and Denis Browne’s personal effects will also be included.

The material will be digitised by the Cambridge University Library and shared online through their Digital Library, where it will sit alongside such interesting collections as the personal papers of Siegfried Sassoon.

The Archive Centre will create metadata (essentially, adding further details to our catalogue, including listing individual letters within guard books) to be added to the images, making them easier to search. We hope to do this with the help of volunteers, who will be properly trained and have a wonderful opportunity to gain some experience of working with archives.

The in-house aspects of the project will be led by Peter Monteith (Assistant Archivist), who developed the education resource ‘Introduction to Archives: Rupert Brooke’.

If you would like to offer some of your time to assist in the creation of metadata for this new digitisation project, please contact archivist@kings.cam.ac.uk.

Brooke Acquisitions

As many of you know, King’s has recently been awarded £430,000 (for which we are most grateful) from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) towards the £500,000 purchase price of the largest collection of Rupert Brooke material that was held outside King’s. We took possession of the collection on April 17th. Peter Jones (Librarian) and Peter Monteith (Assistant Archivist) are shown here, unpacking the acquisition in our reading room.

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The University Press Office published a news story Madonna and Childabout the accession. As you can see from the photo, most of the manuscripts were bound by Marsh and Schroder into guard books, which kept them in good condition and makes them easy to catalogue. The letters and papers in guard books are now on open access, and the cataloguing will proceed apace so that everyone will soon know exactly what is in the new accession. My favourite finds so far relate to Eric Gill. There are three letters from Brooke to Gill. In the first he says he’s seen Gill’s Madonna and Child sculptures that belong to Frances Cornford and to Maynard Keynes (which was left unfinished, as Keynes preferred it) and would like Madonna and Child (right) to buy one for himself. Keynes left his art collection to King’s, and we have his, which in fact presides over the top of the last staircase you have to climb to get up to the archives. It was seen by Keynes before Gill had finished it, and Keynes so liked it in that state that he purchased it as it was.

The second letter says Brooke has received his Madonna, and loves it, and will send a cheque. The third and final letter, written from San Francisco, says he may have forgotten to pay Gill and so he asked Eddie Marsh to send a cheque. At the bottom of the page you’ll find ‘If you’ve a cheque from him, too, you’d better tear up one, + I advise this: for he is of the Great + his cheque is sure to be honoured, but I’m a poet, + with me it’s always doubtful.’

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The Schroder collection also includes the torn-up cheque.

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Poignantly, there is also a letter from Eric Gill to Eddie Marsh offering to carve the lettering on the memorial plaque that was erected in the Rugby chapel. These are my favourites because they illustrate the research value of the new papers (I’ve never seen anything before about Brooke’s artistic tastes), they create even more links between our collections (we have Keynes’s correspondence with Gill and invoice forRCB-Ph-333 his Madonna, as well as having the statue itself), and they exemplify the relationship between old and new collections (the photo of the Rugby plaque is from the old collection). There’s the allure of ‘big names’ like Eric Gill. Finally, there are questions raised – why a torn-up cheque? – that can only be answered by recourse to the papers themselves.

It is particularly gratifying that the majority of funding to acquire this important collection comes from the NHMF. The Fund has its roots in the National Land Fund, established by the then Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, himself a Kingsman and friend of Rupert Brooke, who established the fund as ‘a thank-offering for victory and a war-memorial’. The letters Hugh Dalton himself had received from Rupert Brooke, were bequeathed to King’s and form part of the College’s existing Brooke papers.

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Reaching New Audiences

On Friday, King’s College was pleased to host the Archives and Records Association (ARA) Eastern Region’s latest event, ‘Reaching New Audiences’. The ARA is the professional body for archivists and related professions, with regional committees and special interest groups.

After Gillian Cooke (chair of the ARA Eastern Region) introduced the event, I gave a talk entitled ‘Introduction to Archives: Rupert Brooke Case Study – Putting Skills First’. In this talk, I described our new online resource ‘Introduction to Archives: Rupert Brooke’, a guide to using archives. I focussed on skills, from two perspectives:

  • The archival research skills the website teaches to A-level students, as well as bright and motivated GCSE students.
  • The skills I had to develop in order to ensure I reached that audience successfully.

My approach to the latter included producing a smaller Rupert Brooke-related online resource on the My Learning website, working with young volunteers and working with our School Liaison Officers to deliver a programme of day-long school visits and ‘residentials’  (where students from all over England were also able to spend a night in College and experience Cambridge life).

Then, Sally-Ann Greensmith spoke about her work on the involvement of Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies in the Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network (CCAN) project ‘The Great War – Between the Lines’, which also culminated in the creation of a website. This was a very different, though complementary, project. Her talk, entitled ‘The Great War Between the Lines Project – an allied effort’, focussed on the challenges and benefits of partnership working. This project was part of a larger programme which included 16 partners from France, Belgium and the UK. The project was intended to pool our knowledge of the War and raise awareness of it, ahead of the centenary. Local newspapers were indexed. Touring exhibitions were created by six of the partners, with copies in appropriate translations available to all partners. Walking, cycling and driving routes were created. There was also a significant ‘Last Day of Peace’ event, featuring musical performances, re-enactments, vintage cycles, a military hospital and a display by the St Neots museums. This project showed some of the exciting ways heritage organisations can collaborate to engage communities.

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Sally-Ann and I were then asked questions on our projects. These included such issues as copyright in the King’s College project and working with international partners in Sally-Ann’s project.

The delegates were then taken to the King’s College Archive Centre, where they were able to see an exhibition of the papers of Rupert Brooke in the reading room and small groups were shown the Muniments room (one of our strong rooms, in which the College archives are kept). The exhibition was almost identical to that shown during the school visits, however, we were able to add a few items from the recently acquired Schroder collection, including Rupert Brooke’s attaché case.

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