Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

The New Numbers Poets and the
Chicago Little Theatre (1912-1918)*


The years just prior to and during World War I were witness to a significant give-and-take between and among the English poets and their American counterparts. Often ignored are important manuscript collections in the United States dealing with these interactions.[1]

Representative of this neglect is the biographical treatment of a small group of so-called Georgian poets greatly admired during the literary revival of the post-Edwardian period: Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, Wilfrid W. Gibson, and John Drinkwater. After residing briefly at the Poetry Bookshop in London, Gibson followed Abercrombie out to the rural idyll of Dymock/Ryton (Gloucestershire/Herefordshire). Between 1913 and 1915, at The Gallows (home of the Abercrombies), these two poets were joined by Brooke and Drinkwater in publishing a new quarterly of their verses they called New Numbers.

What makes these poets' example so remarkable is the link they formed between the rolling, lush landscape of Dymock/Ryton and the harsh urban setting of Chicago. We will see how the struggling English poet Maurice Browne and poet and editor Harold Monro-with the patronage of Edward Marsh-facilitated these exchanges; how Rupert Brooke and Wilfrid Gibson, in particular, responded to what was a parallel literary revival in Chicago.

A great deal has been written about the literary renaissance in England that preceded World War I.[2] Within this poetic renewal, the named Georgians distinguished themselves less as a defined movement than as a coming together of writers of many styles at a certain time, separated only slightly from the more extreme tendencies in poetry. Their work was reflected in such prestigious literary journals as The English Review, The New Age, Rhythm, and The Blue Review, precursors of The Poetry Review, founded in 1912, and Poetry and Drama, edited by Harold Monro.

Sir Edward Marsh, influential patron of the arts, became convinced that vital new voices were not getting the hearing they deserved. Conscious of a poetic renaissance, he began publication of his series on Georgian Poetry. These editorial moves were part of an effort, seemingly anti-Victorian, to cast off the ennui of the fin de si�cle in favor of poetic sincerity and truth to life, a movement encouraged by the new political liberalism.

By examining the lives and output of the New Numbers poets, it becomes immediately apparent that the poetic drama was a common focus of their efforts and a common thread in the cross-Atlantic exchange that has been the subject of insufficient critical attention.

Brooke and Gibson were part of a growing interest in the experimental theatre and poetic drama-in Birmingham as in Chicago. Yet Brooke is remembered more for the legendary aura of his appearance and the manner of his youthful passing than for the quality of his writing; Gibson, already established by 1914 as a successful narrative poet with more than ten volumes to his credit, is virtually forgotten. Brooke, a barely-published poet and author of a single play, was enthralled by the stage throughout his brief life and, at the end, in love with its star actress Cathleen Nesbitt; Gibson, on the other hand, was a reluctant playwright whose verse dialogues were frequently performed. They approached the theatre from entirely different vantage points, yet Brooke and Gibson remained close friends; they travelled to America for different purposes, yet each had a play performed at the Chicago Little Theatre: Brooke his Lithuania and Gibson his Womenkind.

Between 1912 and 1917, Browne and his American actress wife, Ellen Van Volkenburg-whom he had recently met in a Florence cafe-ran the Chicago Little Theatre, a model for experimental and 'little' theatres nationally. Within a year of staging its first production, the Little Theatre was considered the most influential experimental theatre in the nation; at its closing, the respected drama magazine Theatre Arts described the Little Theatre's five-year run as 'the most important chapter yet written in the history of the art theatre movement in this country.'[3]

Also in Chicago, Harriet Monroe founded in 1912 Poetry, A Magazine of Verse that championed the contemporary poets; Harriet Vaughn Moody, widow of the poet and playwright and caterer for the Little Theatre's tearoom, opened her Chicago home to the visiting poets.

The meteoric rise and fall of a poetic ideal, often termed the 'Georgian revolt,' seemed to coincide with the outbreak of war and the death of Rupert Brooke, although, as we shall see, echoes were still heard on the other side of the Atlantic for several more years.


With his narrative poem 'The Everlasting Mercy,' John Masefield had produced a seminal work for the new realistic school and the dramatic poetry that characterized those poets who gathered around Harold Monro at the Poetry Bookshop and their patron, 'Eddie' Marsh.

Critics saw the future of the Georgian poets in the theatre, suggested by the austere dramatic verse of Hardy's The Dynasts. There was general agreement that verse drama was to be an important part of the age, and something passionately advocated by Drinkwater, who by 1913 was closely associated with the great Birmingham Repertory Theatre, which produced many of his plays. It was also advocated by his fellow dramatists Gordon Bottomley and Abercrombie. Abercrombie wrote about 'The Function of Poetry in the Drama' in the first issue of The Poetry Review (January 1912). In the same issue, Gibson included 'Some Thoughts on the Future of Poetic-Drama':

And it seems to me that in the future, dramatic verse will be the medium which the energy of life will shape into its most effectual means of expression. For poets and poetry, alike, are merely means to an end, to the fuller and more complete realization of life.[5]

The realism of the Georgian poets was quite different from the prose fiction established firmly on the stage by 1900, in the social, political, and ethical liberalism of an Ibsen, Archer, Pinero, Jones, or Shaw. Gibson, in his dramatic verse-in Stonefolds and Daily Bread, for example-was writing stark little verse-dramas of the humble classes, using workaday life and common speech. He continued the tradition in Fires and in the New Numbers narrative verse, 'Bloodybush Edge' and 'Hoops.'

There were those critics, however, who faulted the often ugly and brutal excesses of the Georgian playwrights, exemplified by Abercrombie's verse play The End of the World and by Gordon Bottomley's King Lear's Wife. Bottomley's play had elicited a storm of protest for its empty expressiveness and its portrayal of a bleak, megalithic world, but it would remain one of Marsh's favorites among the Georgian poetic dramas.[6]

Wilfrid Gibson was the simplest and most uncritical personality in the Georgian group that produced New Numbers. He had left the middle-class security of his home in Hexham, Northumberland, at the age of thirty-four, residing briefly in Glasgow, where he was accepted into literary society as a poor but genteel poet. Back in Hexham, having abandoned his earlier romantic Victorian style in favor of realism, he quickly published three volumes of poetic dialogues as Daily Bread (1910), favorably reviewed by Abercrombie and establishing his reputation as a poet. Additional volumes of narrative verse soon followed: Fires (1912), Thoroughfares, and Borderlands (1914).

Although not written for the stage, several pieces from Daily Bread were performed by the Pilgrim Players in Birmingham, and the Literary Theatre Company in Adelaide gave a Daily Bread evening, acting 'The Firstborn,' 'The Garret,' 'Summer Dawn,' and 'The Night-Shift.' They had previously acted 'Winter Dawn.' Similar readings were performed in Columbus, Ohio.[7]

Eddie Marsh and the New Numbers poets were initially reluctant to include Drinkwater in their quarterly, fearing he would contribute only the leftovers or rejects from other publications. Drinkwater was enjoying, in fact, great popularity in England as playwright, actor, and manager of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. He contributed 'The Fires of God' from Poems of Love and Earth to Georgian Poetry I, and he had written five successful plays for the Birmingham theatre; one of them, Rebellion, performed at the Repertory Theatre in May 1914, brought him close to the Georgian school of poetic drama and the dramatic theory advanced by Abercrombie. He became, in effect, an important link between the repertory theatre and the New Numbers poets.

In his essay on The Gentle Art of Theatre-Going and in his autobiographical Inheritance and Discovery, Drinkwater extolled the poetic drama. He acknowledged Abercrombie's real passion for the theatre as part of the revival of verse plays and the stage vitality of Abercrombie's End of the World, produced at Birmingham and Bristol in 1914 and included in Georgian Poetry II.

At war's end, recognizing the practical managerial needs to ensure success, Drinkwater distanced himself from Abercrombie's theoretical idealism. Seeking a more popular stage production, he wrote what proved to be his wildly successful Abraham Lincoln (1918), the only play of the Georgian period to continue in production. Its historical theme brought Drinkwater to America in 1919, where he met Vachel Lindsay in Springfield, Ohio; in 1920, Lindsay would travel to England, where he was received by Drinkwater.[8]

After Daily Bread, Drinkwater greatly admired Gibson's work. He urged the diffident poet to write specifically for the theatre. With Drinkwater's direction, Gibson wrote Womenkind, produced in Birmingham by the Pilgrim Players in February 1912 (and printed by David Nutt in the Pilgrim Players Series) and in Glasgow in January 1913. Gibson wrote Marsh that 'Womenkind went wonderfully well; and was seen by some 20,000 people during the week.' When Marsh challenged the number of viewers, Gibson responded from Edinburgh:

I was told that the Music Hall in which Womenkind was given holds 1400: and there were two performances a night, and matinees on Wednesday and Saturday, 14 performances in all-which works out to 19,600 people. So you see, I didn't inflate the total more than might be expected from the addition of my head and I had in mind the numbers I saw standing the night I was there.[9]

While Drinkwater cited Gibson's play Womenkind and dramatic dialogue The Garret, he realized that the beauty of the poem did not quicken on the stage. The Garret was staged by the Pilgrim Players in Birmingham and at the Stockport by the Garrick Society. The performances were not well received. Gibson himself acknowledged to Drinkwater that he sought a more intimate appeal than possible from the stage, that he lacked a real dramatic gift, and that the conventions of the theatre were distasteful to a man who was a recluse by temperament. Both Gibson and Drinkwater realized that this was the wrong direction for Gibson to take.

In September 1912, with ten published volumes to his credit, Gibson arrived in London from Hexham in the north. John Middleton Murry and Katherine Mansfield knew of Gibson from a distance, having received poems from him for Rhythm, which they edited. They were pleased to help find a cheap room in the city for the penniless poet, who was earning little more than a pittance reviewing books for the Glasgow Herald.

Brooke and Gibson soon met at Gray's Inn. For the remainder of Brooke's life, they shared a concern for each other's well-being.[10] No less impressed by Gibson's 'singular integrity,' Marsh agreed to appoint him as an assistant editor of Rhythm, which was losing money and could ill afford to pay Gibson a salary. With a further financial bailout from Marsh, Rhythm had metamorphosed into the Blue Review. Soon the Blue Review would give way to Poetry Review, Poetry and Drama, and Georgian Poetry, edited by Marsh and published by Monro's Poetry Bookshop. Gibson, Abercrombie, and Drinkwater were among those who joined in these editorial ventures as frequent contributors.

Lascelles Abercrombie, Gibson's close friend, was the most intellectual of the New Numbers group and shared Gibson's and Drinkwater's love of the poetic theatre. The son of a well-to-do stockbroker, whose brother became the well-known architect Sir Patrick Abercrombie, he attended Malvern College. He was forced to abandon his studies because of poor health and depleted family fortune.

Abercrombie's first volume of verse, Interludes and Poems, appeared in 1909 and caught the attention of Rupert Brooke. He married Catherine Gwatkin the same year, and gradually took on a series of review assignments for such papers as the Liverpool Courier, the Manchester Guardian, and the London Daily News. He and his wife moved to the country in 1910, settling the following year in Ryton at The Gallows, named for a locally celebrated character known as Jock of Dymock, who had been hanged for poaching the king's deer.

When attempts to publish his dramatic dialogue Mary and the Bramble were unsuccessful, Lascelles and Catherine arranged for its private printing in Gloucester, a move that confirmed Abercrombie's reputation as a poet. After publication of a second volume of poems, Emblems of Love, and a pamphlet, The Sale of St. Thomas, Abercrombie contributed a verse play, The End of the World, for inclusion in New Numbers. In September and October 1914, the play was produced at Birmingham and at Bristol, as Drinkwater would explain in his two autobiographical works, Inheritance and Discovery.

Georgian Poetry II contained two full-fledged poetic dramas, each attempting to achieve truth in poetic diction: Abercrombie's The End of the World and Bottomley's King Lear's Wife. Abercrombie's two volumes of The Theory of Poetry were reviewed in Poetry, where Robert Penn Warren critiqued his poems. In noting that the poems are divided into two groups-Dramatic Poems and Poetic Dramas-he quoted Abercrombie's preface:

I would maintain that, equally on the stage as in print, the chief function of the dialogue is to be, not imitative, but expressive; and language finds its most expressive use in poetry, for which the natural rhythm is metrical.

Warren saw no point in demanding verse as a form; theorizing is useless, he argued, 'until there is a modern verse drama which can compete' with a Shakespeare or Ibsen. 'Mr. Abercrombie,' he concluded,

does not raise one's hope for a verse drama. In fact, in the plays themselves his work appears at its worst. . . . In dialogue intended for the stage . . . the style is realistically modified with a result that defeats the original motive in adopting verse. . . . Any essential rhythm, the basic dramatic quality in all verse, disappears. . . . The use of the dramatic devices, all in all, provides a prop for the limited poetic talent.[11]

Harriet Monroe at Poetry had returned Abercrombie's play, The Staircase, because, she said, it was too long for the magazine; Abercrombie nevertheless shared with her copies of the first three issues of New Numbers in the hope that she might 'honour us if you can find space for a review.'[12]

Unlike Abercrombie's verse dramas, Gibson's poems were solicited by Monroe, and many of his published works were reviewed in Poetry: Borderlands and Thoroughfares, Battle and Other Poems, Livelihood, Neighbors, and The Golden Room. A number of individual poems-including 'A Catch for Singing,' 'In the Orchestra,' a series of poems from Battle (including 'The Going'), 'The News,' and four sonnets: 'Color,' 'Oblivion,' 'Tenants,' and 'Gold'-appeared on the pages of Poetry prior to his tour of America. Gibson protested Monroe's suggestion that his 'workmanship is rough.' Pointing out that he was one of the earliest admirers of North of Boston, he objected 'to being pitted against Frost,' claiming not to be a realist in the sense of trying to reproduce speech as Frost does.[13]

Gibson need not have worried. His poems were among the most frequently and uncritically accepted by Miss Monroe between 1914 and 1920, and he was included, along with other Georgian poets, in her 1916 anthology New Poetry.

Rupert Brooke's death at the outset of World War I has been recounted many times by literary historians. Through the patronage of Marsh and Winston Churchill, Brooke was commissioned second lieutenant and sent to the Dardanelles as part of the fateful Gallipoli expedition. Before reaching the war zone, however, he became ill and died of blood poisoning on 23 April 1915. Buried by his companions high on the island of Skyros, Brooke would be seared on the collective imagination as the tragic archetype of youth sacrificing itself for his homeland, a living legend of the '1914' sonnets.[14]

Putting aside the legendary aura of this Apollo-like figure, we focus here on Brooke's early and lasting interest in the theatre that would accompany him on his travels to America and back to England.[15]

Completing his studies at Rugby, while attending Cambridge, Brooke had a small part in She Stoops to Conquer and played the Herald in The Eumenides, Mephistopheles in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, and the Attendant Spirit in Comus. While he enjoyed his youthful popularity as 'A young Apollo, golden-haired,' a more serious side revealed an intense sense of poetry, of drama, and of music, in fact of all the visual arts. He wrote a piece on democracy and the arts, and was soon reading deeply and extensively in the Elizabethan drama, producing a dissertation on John Webster.

Rupert Brooke's personal library, housed at Dartmouth College, contains 289 volumes. The sometimes-annotated texts provide insight into Brooke's artistic tastes and his already defined interest in what was then modern literature. In drama, besides the classical and Elizabethan playwrights, the collection includes works by August Strindberg, Frank Wedekind, Arthur Schnitzler, Henrik Ibsen, Maurice Maeterlinck, Harley Granville-Barker, and Oscar Wilde. We find among the studies of the theatre and anthologies a significant representation of modern dramatists and their literary critics.[16]

By 1912, Brooke was moving away from the Fabians and Socialism and was dedicating more of his creative energies to the repertory and experimental theatre. After extensive travels on the Continent, he had returned to Berlin, where he lodged in a pension in Charlottenburg, near his friend Dudley Ward. Although in poor health and emotionally fragile, he decided to work on what became his only play, a one-act prose melodrama entitled Lithuania, inspired by a German newspaperman who recounted the macabre incident that occurred in a remote Lithuanian village: a boy leaves home at thirteen; he returns home to surprise his family with his riches, but is thwarted by their greed and is murdered by his sister before his true identity is finally revealed.

'I sit here in Berlin,' Brooke wrote home, 'and niggle with plays, too. But mine are severely in prose, and they are full of characters . . . who murder strangers with hammers. But they don't go ahead much.' He believed there was nothing wrong in borrowing a plot, and critics point to the similarities with George Lillo's 1736 play, Fatal Curiosity, and an earlier Welsh ballad called 'The Black Monk.'[17]

Back in London, Brooke fell under the spell of the English actress Cathleen Nesbitt, performing as Perdita in The Winter's Tale at the Savoy. He read Lithuania to her and Marsh at Gray's Inn and addressed the Heretics Society at Cambridge on the contemporary theatre. His remarks on Strindberg appeared in the October 1913 issue of The Cambridge Magazine. He cherished the illusion of having Cathleen Nesbitt act in both Lithuania and Gibson's Womenkind, as he playfully suggested to Marsh from America:

What fun though, if both Wilfrid & Cathleen join me in these parts in the autumn. How denuded England will be! And how rich I! I think Cathleen'd better learn up Womenkind. And then in every town I'd be interviewed, Wilfrid'd read, her portrait'd come in the papers, & then, in the evening, she'd act Lithuania & Womenkind. And next day we'd share out the profits. Will you be advertising agent & courier?[18]

In Cathleen Nesbitt Brooke had found temporary solace from his broken and deeply troubled involvement with Katharine (Ka) Cox. He attended the theatre frequently, in London and Birmingham, and she would sometimes accompany him. They particularly enjoyed such anti-Victorian extravaganzas as the American Hullo Ragtime, which Brooke saw as many as ten times. From New York, he would comment that 'the recent American invasion of London music-halls has bitten into one's brain a very definite taste of a jerking, vital, bizarre "rag-time" civilisation.'[19]

Brooke had sent Marsh a revised typescript of Lithuania on the eve of his departure for America, asking his mentor to oversee in his absence any arrangements for the play's production in England. But now, as the summer of 1914 wore on, Brooke's hopes of seeing Lithuania produced were dwindling. Masefield had read the play and proclaimed that its best chance would be on the bill of a music-hall, since the playing time was barely half an hour. Brooke had also shared the manuscript with James B. Strachey and Gilbert Cannan, who rejected it; Miss Horniman of the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, had told him the melodrama presented too common a theme. He complained that Granville-Barker 'has declared his admiration for my play in conversation with friends; but keeps it and is dumb.'[20]

When Brooke visited Drinkwater in Birmingham, the two 'exhausted the complete theory of drama in a teashop.'[21] Drinkwater declared that Lithuania showed promise of a dramatist; Brooke seemed more concerned to talk Drinkwater into reviving the tragedies of Webster, whose works he considered unjustly neglected.

Brooke had understood from Frederick Whelen the play would be given a reading before the managers of the Stage Society, but there was no word. Through an introduction from Masefield, he also hoped to hear from Alfred Wareing at the Glasgow Citizen Theatre. 'I tried to get a touch of something of the Russian and the German into [Lithuania],' he wrote Wareing, adding that he had 'two or three other short plays of a less gloomy nature in hand' for him to see. Brooke later learned that, owing to ill health, Wareing was unable to carry out his initial intention to stage the play in Glasgow.[22]

Even after he had enlisted, Brooke still had Lithuania on his mind: 'I don't see Viola [Tree] as the Lithuanian,' he wrote from camp in Dorset. 'Nor would the public, perhaps. And isn't Lithuania one of our allies? But-it would be rather fun to see a play by me before I die. . . . Next time I go sick I must write a play about Antwerp.'[23] The declaration of war soon changed all their plans.


By the time, in 1913-1914, the small group of poets gathered at The Gallows to assemble the New Numbers quarterly, the revival of poetic drama was assured. No one questioned the stature of Drinkwater as playwright, actor, and stage manager in the provincial repertory theatre; some of Gibson's dramatic monologues, most recently in Fires, had earned him the title in England and in America of the poet of contemporary industrial life; and Abercrombie would contribute several favorably- received verse plays to the New Numbers volumes. Although Brooke did not submit any dramatic pieces to New Numbers, we know that from an early age he was deeply absorbed in threatrical production.

The New Numbers project grew out of what began as a rather eclectic, catholic list of contributors to The Poetry Review, where Harold Monro and his friend Maurice Browne had envisaged a group of poets working towards a common ideal. Students together at Cambridge, and influenced by H. G. Wells's Modern Utopia, these two took walking tours on the continent, and Browne's sister Dorothy soon married Monro. In 1907, they had set up the Samurai Press, which published works by Drinkwater and Gibson.

At times overwrought and gloomy, Monro loathed all forms of aestheticism and literary cant; his impractical idealism and restlessness ended his marriage and strained relations with the other poets. By 1912, we find Maurice Browne in America and Monro immersed in the work of the Poetry Bookshop and his quarterly, Poetry and Drama. It was here, at 35 Devonshire Street, and in the home of Eddie Marsh, at Gray's Inn, that the ambitions of poetry were given full rein and the aspiring poets gathered in support of each other's work.[24]

The Poetry Bookshop may have been Harold Monro's greatest contribution to the London literary revival. The handsome eighteenth-century building, located on a shabby, dark street in the Holburn slum, opened in January 1913 and provided an important gathering place for the poets from all schools of art. Drinkwater, the histrionic actor, was always available to recite at the bookshop, as was Gibson in his deadening monotone and Brooke in his shy whisper.

The actual bookshop, where poets and poetry lovers were encouraged to browse, was housed on the ground floor. The offices for editing Poetry and Drama were on the first floor with the rooms on the second floor and in the attic available as bed-sitting-rooms for needy poets and artists. Gibson was one of the first tenants to move into his tiny box of a room, over whose door was posted: 'In case of fire, access to the roof through this room.' He soon met and married the Bookshop's secretary, Geraldine Townshend, resulting in a fierce and uncharacteristic row with Monro, who viewed the New Numbers project as a deliberate attempt to detract from his Poetry and Drama.

Seeking inspiration in a rustic setting, the newlyweds moved to Dymock in Gloucestershire. They settled in the Old Nailshop, at the Greenway, an easy walk to the Abercrombies at The Gallows and the Frosts at Little Iddens. The gatherings of the poets at the Old Nailshop were commemorated years later by Gibson in 'The Golden Room':

    Do you remember the still summer evening
    When, in our cosy, cream-washed living room
    Of the Old Nailshop, we all talked and laughed-
    Our neighbors from The Gallows, Catherine
    And Lascelles Abercrombie; Rupert Brooke;
    Elinor and Robert Frost, . . .
    'Twas in July
    Of nineteen-fourteen that we sat and talked;
    Then August brought the war and scattered us.

During those lazy summer months of 1914, the imminence of war was barely felt in the hamlets of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Similar get-togethers continued throughout the summer in each other's cottages, sometimes at the Old Nailshop, sometimes at Little Iddens, sometimes at The Gallows. Catherine Abercrombie would recall those carefree days, where she had

a permanent gipsy-tent under the 'seven sisters' as our elms were called, and sometimes I would have an iron pot over a fire with a duck and green peas stewing in it, and Lascelles, John Drinkwater, and Wilfrid Gibson would sit round and read their latest poems to each other, as I lay on a stoop of hay and listened, and watched the stars wander through the elms, and thought I had really found the why and the wherefore of life. The Great Wars had not started then and one's mind could peacefully rest on loveliness and hopefulness as never again after 1914.[25]

The New Numbers quarterly was assembled in the two timbered cottages of The Gallows, with its connecting courtyard and its garden sloping upward to seven stately elms. Catherine and Lascelles Abercrombie had arranged for a printer in Gloucester. The inaugural issue had been posted to the 200 subscribers, Catherine writing out the addresses at her special writing-desk and Gibson suddenly turning 'a ghastly white from licking so many stamps.' Once undertaken, the quarterly was produced with surprising harmony and provided a communal focus for the poets' activities.[26]

It was while traveling through Canada-Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Winnipeg, Lake George, and on to Vancouver, Seattle, and San Francisco-that Brooke received word from Gibson regarding the New Numbers project at The Gallows, linking him with Abercrombie and Drinkwater in a common publication of Georgian verse. Brooke was already very fond of Gibson, whom he affectionately called 'Wibson' and generously described to friends as 'the most simple & charming & good-hearted of people in the world.'[27] He wrote his mother that

Gibson has been staying with Abercrombie, and he has got a great idea that he, Abercrombie, Drinkwater, and I should combine our publics, and publish

from the Abercrombies (Mrs. A. does the work) a Volume four times a year. A. has done it with some of his own stuff, and finds he makes most money that way. The other three seem to be keen on the idea. Rather a score for me, as my 'public' is smaller than any of theirs![28]

As things turned out, the 'score' would be for the others.

The first issue of New Numbers appeared in February 1914; for the succeeding issues, Brooke was late in submitting a contribution and had to be nudged by Marsh. Back in England from America, in July 1914, Brooke travelled to Gloucestershire to confer with the other New Numbers poets at the Gallows. They discussed the August number which was to contain some of his South Sea poems. The name of the periodical was altered several times-from The Shilling Garland to the Gallows Garland to New Numbers. Brooke said he thought 'it's silly changing it from Gallows Garland.'[29]

In his imaginary table of contents for New Numbers, we see an example of Brooke's underrated gentle humor and carefully-aimed satire:

1. Lascelles Abercrombie: Haman and Mordecai
2. John Drinkwater: The Sonority of God: An Ode
3. W. W. Gibson: Poor Bloody Bill: A Tale
4. Rupert Brooke: Oh Dear! oh, Dear! A Sonnet
5. Lascelles Abercrombie: Asshur-Bani-Pal and Og King of Bashan
6. John Drinkwater: William Morris: an Appreciation in Verse
7. W. W. Gibson: Gas-Stoves: No. 1. A Brave Poor Thing

While his sonnet would, in this imaginary index, take up only one page, the other contributions he listed covered hundreds of pages. 'Then there would be three hundred pounds profit, divided proportionally to the amount contributed,' Brooke surmised. By that formula, he, Brooke, would receive a mere 0.10. 'Anyhow,' he assured Gibson, 'I'm very pleased and excited about the scheme, and I'll "come in", right in, without knocking; if ever I write anything again.'[30]

In late June and again in July 1914, having returned from his Pacific travels, Brooke paid two flying visits to Gibson's home at the Greenway, where he took a belated part in assembling the third issue of New Numbers. The issue was not ready for distribution until October, by which time the start of the war had made its contents seem frivolous. The fourth and final number, containing Brooke's impassioned 1914 sonnets, was not fully assembled until February 1915. Although Gibson complained that Brooke was dilatory in submitting poems in a timely fashion, he conceded that the sonnets 'were well worth waiting for.'[31]


Interest in England as a literary centre for American poets was not new. While in England, Ezra Pound had agreed to serve as foreign correspondent for Poetry, A Magazine of Verse, whose editor, Harriet Monroe, had founded the magazine in 1912. Amy Lowell, initially an ardent partisan of Pound and his Imagist school of vers libre, came to England in 1914, where she first read the poems of Robert Frost in North of Boston and where, with the Lowell riches, wooed away many of the Pound followers into her own camp. T. S. Eliot would join Pound as an expatriate and Robert Frost would spend two and one-half years in England during this period, unexpectedly finding there the long-sought critical acclaim and recognition of his verse.

Interest in America by English poets and playwrights was not new, either. In the years leading up to the war, the English poets and their artistic peers were attracted to America primarily for the promise of income it offered. They outspokenly criticized what they perceived as America's industrial materialism and cultural wasteland, even as they sought lasting contacts and important outlets for their work.

William Butler Yeats first toured the United States in 1903-1904. The arrangements for his itinerary were made by John Quinn: lawyer, financier, collector of books and paintings, as well as a friend and patron of various English poets that included Yeats, Pound, and Eliot. Quinn helped found the New York Irish Literary Society, and he helped the Irish poet and playwright adopt Macmillan as his exclusive American publisher for life. Besides reading at Yale, Berkeley, and Stanford, Yeats travelled to such places as Washington, D.C., Niagara Falls, and parts of Canada; on three different occasions he visited Chicago. Yeats's favorite topic was 'The Intellectual Revival in Ireland,' asserting the importance of the theatre. His article 'America and the Arts,' published upon his return to England, preserved some of his thoughts on the subject. While he applauded the vividness and immediacy of American life, he deplored a certain crudeness and materialism; for him, hope lay in the growth of an aristocracy to ensure elegance and culture. Plagued by exhaustion and preoccupied with his advancing years-a concern developed in On Baile's Strand-he was emboldened by the adulation of his audiences and experienced a return of the lyric gift.

Back in London, Yeats expressed his real passion for 'the little theatre' with the opening of the Abbey Theatre in December 1904; his plays On Baile's Strand, Spreading the News, and Cathleen ni Houlihan enjoyed great success. In January 1914, he returned to America, with James Pond's Lyceum agency making the tour arrangements. His stated purpose was to make money to retire outstanding debts and to visit his father, who had settled permanently in a small French hotel on West 29th Street in New York. In February, March, and April, Yeats was lionized in Chicago at a series of lectures and functions: at the Twentieth Century, Fortnightly, and Book and Play Clubs, at the University of Chicago Dramatic Club-which was performing The Land of Hearts Desire-and at a banquet at Poetry, where the guests included the American poets Vachel Lindsay and Carl Sandburg. He talked on 'John M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time,' 'Contemporary Lyric Poets,' and 'The Theatre of Beauty.' Distinguishing between the poetic and realistic types of drama, he championed the return of the poetic play with the use of technical innovations. He displayed a somewhat obsessive interest in occultism, mediums, seances, magic, and mysticism; he was contemptuous of the democratic tastes of the middle class in America when measured against the Parisian aristocratic taste he admired. In fact, he was dismissive of American drama and the transatlantic literary scene in general:

I would say that in America you have no self-conscious literary class whose members write for the appreciation of one another, such as existed once in New England. Such a class tends to produce excellence in literature, but I do not find it here.[32]

Often tired, bored, and lonely while on tour, Yeats nonetheless found some happiness in Chicago, where he discovered a certain intelligence and energy in the literary world. It would be here, in 1912, at the Chicago Little Theatre, that his On Baile's Strand would be performed together with Gibson's Womenkind.

John Masefield, identified with the Georgian poets through such narrative poems as 'The Everlasting Mercy,' first landed in New York in 1895 as a young officer aboard the White Star Line's Adriatic. He started to write verse as a factory worker before returning to England. His first lecture tour in the United States was during World War I, in 1916, arranged by Quinn. As a delegate of the Allies, Masefield hoped to win the Americans over with the warmth of his reading of his visual, emotive verse. He owed much to American hospitality, but in spite of people's kindness, his feelings remained ambivalent.

Masefield was not happy as a lecturer, 'having,' he confided to a friend, 'little or no exact knowledge, small critical capacity, and little pleasure (as a rule) in lecturing. I am a storyteller, and all my knowledge, criticism and pleasure I put into stories.' He was less monotonous performing for young audiences: Students at Yale and the brave and self-reliant soldiers. He found youth to be friendly and kind, but 'O God,' he added, 'smite these women's clubs in their secret parts.' While he liked the south and enjoyed Boston and Niagara Falls, he was disdainful of Chicago:

I never saw the sights of Chicago. Never saw the 700 hogs killed in an hour, nor the 10,000 cows butchered in a day, nor the men brooming the blood into the pans and having their fingers sliced off into the sausage-meat, and no time to stop and pick them out, so perhaps I ought not to judge the place: I never saw its art. I saw its soul, though.

In most places, such as St. Louis, he complained of the commercialism and absence of a civic sense, finding 'the elaborate shell of a coffin, without the humanity of a corpse inside.' He toured the States for another four months in 1918.[33]


Fearful that the actress Cathleen Nesbitt might abandon him to go on tour to America, Brooke urged her to remain in England. Paradoxically, within a month he had finally resolved to take himself on an extended tour of America, Canada, and the South Seas, departing 22 May 1913, on the SS Cedric from Liverpool.

Once on shipboard, destination New York, Brooke had met a Mr. Klaw, who owned a number of theatres in America: 'I took him into the smoking-room,' Brooke wrote Marsh, 'and delivered a lecture on Modern Drama in England, America, and Germany, on Theatre-managing, on Commercialism in the Drama, and many other topics.'[34] In New York, Brooke was joined by a friend of Lowes Dickinson, Russell H. Loines, a lawyer who enjoyed the outdoors and who lent him money to complete his wanderings.

The Westminster Gazette, where Brooke had published a number of essays, made the trip financially feasible when its literary editor, Naomi Royde Smith, and its editor-in-chief, J. A. Spender, commissioned a series of articles about his upcoming travels. The thirteen essays would be published posthumously as Letters from America (1916), with an introduction by Henry James. Combined with Brooke's renewed attention to the experimental theatre, these essays reveal an artistic potential in prose often ignored by his critics.

The reviewer in Poetry discovered in the prose

a kind, humorous, intelligent young gentleman, somewhat puzzled in an alien field. . . . Niagara, the Saguenay, the mountains around Calgary, the Indians, the sea-enwrapped Samoans-such are the things that stir his nature and bring the poetical phrases to his pen. . . . On the whole, a book not greatly important in itself.[35]

In a more recent assessment, the critic and Brooke biographer John Lehmann was more generous:

The Westminster articles reveal a new side to Rupert's talents, as an accomplished travel-writer. They are written with a restrained and graceful skill; the general tone is sophisticated and urbane, with a continual undertone of irony and humour. His descriptions of people he met, and above all places he visited, are witty and imaginative; and some of the bravura pieces, for instance the pictures of Niagara Falls and of Lake Louise, are fresh and poetic and exact. They undoubtedly strengthen the view of some of his contemporaries that his eventual literary career could have been even more as a prose writer than as a poet.[36]

With an intense response to the atmosphere of place and his remarkable powers of evocation, Brooke was most successful in his more subtle 'virtuoso pieces of nature painting.'

Often overcome by nostalgia for Grantchester or lamenting the commercialism and spiritual emptiness of vast regions of Canada and the United States, Brooke nevertheless appreciated the informality and ease of the Americans and was especially taken by the younger people at the universities (Yale, Harvard, and Berkeley, in particular) with their shared eagerness for the experimental theatre.[37]

Brooke also used his travel opportunities to promote Marsh's Georgian Poetry with Macmillan and other American publishers and at the arts clubs and universities on his itinerary. He left a copy of Georgian Poetry at the Arts & Letters Club in Toronto, where he was interviewed, and was told that 'Bryn Mawr, the leading American Girls' College, is wild about Georgian Poetry.'[38]

Having reached his twenty-sixth birthday on 3 August 1913, Brooke confessed to Cathleen Nesbitt: 'And I've done so little. I'm very much ashamed.'[39] While pleased to be taken taken seriously in Canada as a poet and in the West as a politician and thinker, once in the South Seas, he appears to have been abandoned by the poetic muse; he became increasingly disenchanted as a writer, contemplating a future life as a theatre manager rather than a poet. 'The game is up, Eddie,' he wrote Marsh:

If I've gained facts through knocking about with Conrad characters in a Gauguin entourage-I've lost a dream or two. I tried to be a poet. And because I was a clever writer and because I was forty times as sensitive as anyone else-I succeeded a little. I am what I came out here to be-hard, quite hard. I have become merely a minor character in a Kipling story. I'll never be able to write anything more, I think. Or perhaps I can do plays of a sort. . . . I want to talk, talk, talk. . . .[40]

Returning to San Francisco from the South Seas, where, as he put it, 'women are women, beautiful, intelligent, competent, and real,' Brooke lamented the signs of 'Industrial Civilization' and its tiresome, ugly and 'hideously selfish' women.[41]

Wilfrid Gibson and Harold Monro had urged Rupert Brooke to contact Maurice Browne at the Little Theatre in Chicago, and, as Browne later explained, 'Brooke and I had been chasing each other for two years across two continents before we finally met.'

Brooke arrived on 29 April 1914. Showing up at the Auditorium Hotel, adjacent to the Fine Arts Building, he was received warmly by Browne and Van Volkenburg. As were many others, Browne was overwhelmed by the physical presence of the young poet. In his Recollections he tried to recapture what he referred to as 'the abysmal mythopoeic phrase: the beauty of the man,' conjuring up the memory of Brooke as he walked down Michigan Avenue:

his right hand swinging his hat-some broad-brimmed high-crowned ridiculous featherweight, plaited from South Sea straw, of which he was inordinately vain-his long legs striding carelessly and freely, his eyes fixed straight ahead, utterly unconscious of people and things: for he's talking, talking . . . .[42]

He recalled affectionately the blurred memory of what was no more than three or four days (mistakenly remembered as ten days!), at the theatre and in his and 'Nellie Van's' studio:

My memory of the next ten days is a riotous blur of all-night talks, club sandwiches, dawns over Lake Michigan, and innumerable 'steins.' Brooke continued staying at the Auditorium (which he detested), but spent virtually all his time at the theatre-where Mme. Borgny Hammer was then playing Hedda Gabler-and at our studio a few blocks south, which overlooked the lake. There he showed us his South Sea treasures and told us of his Gauguin find. . . . The three of us would sit up night after night in our studio, talking, singing folk-songs, reading poetry, surging across the tiny room, like happy healthy children.[43]

At the studio, Brooke read aloud 'almost everything he had written, including Lithuania and all the South Sea poems, then still in manuscript.'

Brooke, Browne, and Van Volkenburg were able to make arrangements to sail for Portsmouth on the same ship, the SS Philadelphia ,from New York, on 29 May. Once in England, where they arrived on 5 June, Brooke continued to see a great deal of the couple, assisting them in making various contacts on the continent for their projected tour of the German experimental theatre and other innovative stage productions; in fact, but for the war, the four young theatre enthusiasts had 'passionately' planned 'to establish an English theatre the following summer in Berlin.'[44]

In describing his new-found friends, Brooke barely contained his excitement: They run the Little Theatre in Chicago, act nothing but Gibson & Abercrombie & Euripides, & are touring Europe (under my direction, not guidance) for theatrical enlightenment. They do good work. And they're friends of Wilfrid, of Cathleen, & of me-what greater recommendation is possible? [45]

Browne and his wife had spent the previous summer at the Poetry Bookshop, where they had found Gibson sharing the cramped quarters in that 'murderous slum.' During this final summer before the war, they attended various ballet and theatrical productions and held parties with old friends, the 'millions of lovely people' who gathered in Gray's Inn: among them Marsh, Monro, Brooke, Gibson, Abercrombie, whom Browne had not known previously, and Drinkwater, whom he met for the first time in Birmingham. They spoke of America, Mrs. Havelock Ellis, and the possibility of producing Gordon Bottomley's King Lear's Wife at the Little Theatre.[46]

Brooke met Harriet Monroe at Poetry: she had arranged for him to meet Amy Lowell in London. In sending her the five poems from the third issue of New Numbers, he surmised that there were no more than 'a dozen subscribers to New Numbers in the whole of your hemisphere' and encouraged her to review the quarterly in her magazine. From the Hood Battalion, Dorset, he wrote that 'Chicago seems very remote from the good and evil of Europe.' He forwarded to her the three war sonnets that would appear in the final issue of New Numbers and that she accepted for the April 1915 issue of Poetry: 'Peace,' 'The Dead,' and 'The Soldier.'[47] A final contact between Brooke and the United States occurred the year following his death. His mother arranged with Marsh for Walter de la Mare to represent her son in receiving posthumously the medal of the Henry E. Howland Memorial Prize at Yale University in New Haven. The invitation from President Hadley explained the significance of the honor:

You must have known already by many avenues of the feeling about him in the United States, of the sense of tenderness for his youth, of the attitude of possession of him, jointly with Englishmen, as one of the Masters of Song in our common tongue, and indeed that he typifies the nobility of sacrifice for a cause that is ours as well as yours. I hope that the Committee's action will do something to strengthen your impression of the sincerity of American feeling towards your heroic son.[48]

Gibson sent Mrs. Brooke a copy of his volume Friends, dedicated to Brooke; she sent him copies of the letters from President Hadley. 'It is splendid about the Howland medal,' he wrote. Of the Brooke beneficiaries, Abercrombie could not leave his ammunition work, and Gibson was awaiting word on his induction. It was decided that Walter de la Mare, whose military status was not an issue, could be persuaded to go.[49]

Russell Loines made the arrangements for the trip. Although the exact dates of de la Mare's stay in the United States are not clear, he appears to have toured in the States at least three weeks in the month of November 1916. The presentation of the Howland Memorial Prize took place on 14 November, during the Commencement exercises at Yale University. In presenting the prize, President Hadley quoted de la Mare:

    All vext desire, all vain
    Cries of a conflict done
    Fallen to rest again;
    Death's refuge won.

He concluded his remarks by offering the homage of Yale 'to Brooke and to the ideals which inspired his verse.' De la Mare then delivered a lecture on 'Youth and Poetry,' judged most appropriate for the occasion by his listeners.[50]

Gibson heard that de la Mare 'had given "a beautiful and brilliant lecture"' at Yale; de la Mare thought his presentation 'went off very well . . . though Hadley had a "terrible bad" cold.' He complained of the 'terrible scramble' and of being tired and lonely, despite the very friendly reception. Back in England, de la Mare said he was very glad he went but 'uncommon glad to be back.'[51] A year later, a poem written for the occasion by Agnes Porter was published in Boston:

    Yale College Gives a Prize to Rupert Brooke
    June, 1916

    They offered still a prize to thee,
    Who hast the prize of Immortality;

    They spoke thy name, with the same breath,
    Yet the great difference, which is Death;

    So that all glamour could not rob
    Us of the impulse of a sob;

    And those who had not read thy book
    Still read thy spirit, Rupert Brooke.[52]

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[*] This essay is part one of a two-part study. The second part will be published in a future issue. The editors are most grateful to Hazen R. Allen, Manuscript Specialist, Rauner Library, for his technical assistance with this essay.

[1] While the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library is often cited in scholarly work, and it is indeed an important gathering of British literary papers, especially those of Edward Marsh and his contemporaries, other collections have been neglected: e.g., the Van Volkenburg-Browne Collection at the University of Michigan; the Harriet Monroe and Harriet Vaughn Moody Papers at the University of Chicago; and Rupert Brooke's personal library in the Dartmouth College Library.

[2] See Robert H. Ross, The Georgian Revolt: The Rise and Fall of a Poetic Ideal (London: Faber and Faber, 1965); Sean Street, The Dymock Poets (Seren: Poetry Wales Press, 1994); and Joy Grant, Harold Monro & the Poetry Bookshop (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967).

[3] 'Editorial Comment,' Theatre Arts 2:1 (December 1917): 50.

[4] I became acquainted with the Georgian poets' interest in the theatre and their ties with the United States through my research on my grandfather, Robert Frost, and his family. I was struck by the American poet's enthusiasm for dramatic dialogue and the theatre, an enthusiasm that found expression during his stay in England, 1912-1915, and the publication in London of his North of Boston verse narratives. Frost characterized his own rhymed one-act play, The Cow's in the Corn, as his 'sole contribution to the Celtic Drama.' He had shown his friend Edward Thomas a draft of a play entitled An Assumed Part, later published as A Way Out, when they first met in 1913. Two other plays, In an Art Factory and Guardeen, languished in draft until their posthumous publication. We know that Frost hoped to bring out, with David Nutt in London, a third book of 'out and out plays' to follow North of Boston, but that the war and his own insecurity as a playwright prevented him from seeing his goal to completion. Meeting for the first time at the Poetry Bookshop other aspiring and successful poets and writers, Frost found that his theory of 'the sound of sense' won a sympathetic audience in the literary salons of pre-war London. It was in London that Frost became acquainted with Wilfrid Gibson, and his companion Lascelles Abercrombie, to whom he was drawn for the same reasons he was attracted to the Irish playwrights: their work caught his attention initially as an expression, with an ear for the tones of everyday speech, of the dreams, labors, and fears of common humanity, with its inherent antipathy towards decorated verse and archaic diction. When Frost joined the poets at Dymock/Ryton the spring and summer of 1914, he did not participate in the New Numbers project and he was excluded (together with Ezra Pound) from Edward Marsh's Georgian Poetry, despite the urgings of Gibson. He nevertheless found acceptance at The Gallows gatherings for his belief that talk was the most dramatic and poetic when sentences were lean and sharp with the give-and-take of conversation.

[5] Street, Dymock, 33; The Poetry Review 1 (January 1912), 122.

[6] Ross, Georgian Revolt, 31-32; Christopher Hassall, A Biography of Edward Marsh (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1959), 378. Marsh is quoted in a letter to Brooke (Hassall, Marsh, 277), 'I don't want to dethrone Lascelles but I must say that I think this thing is at least as good as anything of his-the poetic drama is born again, of that there is no doubt. It is short, but the action, the character drawing, and the verses are all the work of a master. There are lives that are like nothing but the famous things of Webster.' Bottomley affirmed (Hassall, Marsh, 279), 'I have loved the theatre all my life, and the drama more than any other art form.'

[7] Gibson to Browne, 16 May 1911 and 14 March 1912, Van Volkenburg-Browne Collection, University of Michigan. Edward Thomas did not share the favorable view of Gibson's talent. In 1906, Thomas wrote that 'Wilfrid Wilson Gibson long ago swamped his small delightful gift by his abundance. He is essentially a minor poet in the bad sense, for he is continually treating subjects poetically, writing about things instead of creating them.' Of his later verse narratives, Thomas opined that Gibson 'has merely been embellishing what would have been far more effective as pieces of rough prose. . . . The verse has added nothing except unreality, not even brevity.'

[8] Street, Dymock, 55. W(illiam) H(enry) Davies (1871-1940), the Gloucester poet and friend of Haines, Abercrombie, Gurney, Thomas, and Gibson, did not write plays and is today considered a minor poet. He lost a leg under a freight train during the six years he wandered as a common tramp in America and Canada. Upon his return to England, with assists from established writers like G. B. Shaw and Joseph Conrad, he published his Autobiography of a Super-Tramp (1908) and The Adventures of Johnny Walker, Tramp (1926). Another poet from the period, Ralph Hodgson, spent some time in the early 1890s in America as a scene designer with a touring group; after almost fourteen years as a lecturer of English at the Imperial University in Sendai, Japan, he and his second wife settled on a farm in Minerva, Ohio. Edward Thomas had made plans to join Robert Frost in New England; when the war intervened, he sent his son, Merfyn, with the Frosts back to America; his death at Arras in 1917 aborted his and Robert's future plans together.

[9] Gibson to Marsh, January 1913; Marsh to Gibson, 23 January 1913; Berg Collection, New York Public Library.

[10] In October 1912, Gibson visited Brooke at the Old Vicarage, which he commemorated in his dedicatory verse:

    October chestnuts showered their perishing gold
    Over us as beside the stream we lay
    In the Old Vicarage garden that blue day,
    Talking of verse and all the manifold
    Delights a little net of words may hold . . ..

The following May, he attended a farewell party for Brooke as he departed for America. When, in October, the Gibsons, Abercrombies, and R. C. Trevelyans visited the D. H. Lawrences in Lerici, Italy, Lawrence thought Gibson 'one of the clearest and most lovable personalities I know.'

[11] Poetry 28 (June 1926): 169-173, 227-232; 40 (April 1932): 47-50.

[12] Abercrombie to Monroe, 5 October 1914, Harriet Monroe Papers, University of Chicago.

[13] Gibson to Monroe, 14 January 1915 and 20 June 1920, Monroe Papers, University of Chicago.

[14] Ross, Georgian Revolt, 161. Following Brooke's death, a book entitled Rupert Brooke and Skyros was published in London (Elkin Mathews, 1921), written by Stanley Casson, with woodcut illustrations by Phyllis Gardner. Although Rupert Brooke, in a letter to Katharine Cox, calls Phyllis the 'Romance of My Life' and refers to her in veiled terms in his poem 'He Wonders Whether to Praise or to Blame Her,' the one letter preserved from Rupert to Phyllis, dated March 1914, from Tahiti, shows otherwise. See Rupert Brooke, The Letters of Rupert Brooke, ed. Geoffrey Keynes (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968), 340, 565-566. Robert Frost, who spent some time with Phyllis's parents, the noted archeologist Ernest Arthur Gardner and his wife Mary Wilson, commented on the poem as it appeared in the December 1913 issue of Poetry and Drama, 'We know this hardly treated girl oh very well. Her beauty is her red hair. Her cleverness is in painting. She has a picture in the New English Exhibition.' Robert Frost, Selected Letters, ed. Lawrance Thompson (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1964), 104.

[15] See Edward Marsh, 'A Memoir,' in Rupert Brooke: The Collected Poems (London: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1942), xi-clvi; Christopher Hassall, Rupert Brooke: A Biography (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964).

[16] For a description of the collection at Dartmouth College see Philip N. Cronenwett, 'Brooke and the Brooke Library,' Dartmouth College Library Bulletin n.s. 22:1 (November 1981): 25-27.

[17] Brooke to Frances Cornford, May-June [1912], Brooke, Letters, 386. Note the similarity of Brooke's theme to the wealthy 'indiano' character in Spanish drama, who returns from South America to his poor family in Spain. While in Berlin, Brooke also wrote his famous poem 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester,' which he initially titled 'The Sentimental Exile.'

[18] Brooke to Marsh, 6 September 1913 from Vancouver, B.C, Brooke, Letters, 506. Gibson's Womenkind was being produced in both England and America at the time. For a description of Cathleen Nesbitt's relations with Rupert Brooke, see her A Little Love and Good Company (London: Faber & Faber, 1975).

[19] Rupert Brooke, Letters from America, preface by Henry James (New York: Scribner's Sons, 1916), 45.

[20] Brooke to Katharine Cox, [March 1913], Brooke, Letters, 427. See Hassall, Brooke, 380, 385.

[21] John Drinkwater, Rupert Brooke (London: Chiswick Press, 1916), 20.

[22] Brooke to Wareing, 19 May 1913 and 27 April 1914. Dartmouth College Library, Special Collections, MS-138.

[23] Brooke to Marsh, 26 January 1915, Brooke, Letters, 657. See Hassall, Brooke, 387-388; and Brooke to Marsh, 19 May 1913 and 26 May [1913], Brooke, Letters, 460, 465-466.

[24] Grant, Harold Monro, 21.

[25] Catherine Abercrombie, 'Memories of a Poet's Wife,' The Listener, 15 November 1956, 793.

[26] Hassall, Brooke, 450.

[27] Brooke to Russell Loines, 25 April 1914, from the Grand Canyon, Brooke, Letters, 581.

[28] Brooke to Mrs. Brooke, 21 July 1913, from Toronto, Brooke, Letters, 484.

[29] Brooke to Marsh, 6 September 1913, from Vancouver, Brooke, Letters, 506.

[30] Brooke to Gibson, 23 July [1913] from Toronto, Brooke, Letters, 486-487. The index can also be found in Hassall, Brooke, 407.

[31] Gibson to Marsh, 26 March 1915, Berg Collection.

[32] Quoted in Karin Strand, 'W. B. Yeats' American Lecture Tour' (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1978), 514. See also R. F. Foster, W. B. Yeats: A Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[33] Sanford Sternlicht, John Masefield (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977), 99, 101-109.

[34] Brooke to Marsh, 26 May [1913], Brooke, Letters, 465.

[35] Review by 'H. B. F.,' Poetry, A Magazine of Verse 6 (June 1916), 155-157.

[36] John Lehmann, The Strange Destiny of Rupert Brooke (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980), 83-84, 91. See Charles Sprawson, Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992), 42, 81-91.

[37] Lehmann, Strange Destiny, 95. See Ellery Sedgwick, The Happy Profession (Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1946), quoted in Hassall, Brooke, 399, in which he states, upon meeting Rupert Brooke on Beacon Street, 'A young man more beautiful than he I had never seen. Tall beyond the common, his loose tweeds accentuated his height and the athletic grace of his walk. His complexion was as ruddy as a young David's. His auburn hair rippled back from the central parting, careless but perfect. . . . Man's beauty is much more rare than woman's. I went home under the spell of it and at the foot of the stairs cried aloud to my wife, "I have seen Shelley plain!"'

[38] Brooke to Monro, 24 July [1913], Brooke, Letters, 493. See also R. H. Hathaway, 'Rupert Brooke: A Canadian Memory,' The Colophon (1932). Brooke openly admired the Canadian poet Duncan Campbell Scott, to whom he carried an introduction from Masefield, and E. A. Robinson and Wallace Stevens, among the American poets.

[39] Brooke to Nesbitt, from Lake George, 1 August 1913, Brooke, Letters, 496.

[40] Hassall, Edward Marsh, 276-277; Brooke to Marsh, 16 August 1913, from Calgary, Brooke, Letters, 500.

[41] Brooke to Jacques Raverat, April [1914], en route from Arizona to Chicago, Brooke, Letters, 581.

[42] Maurice Browne, Recollections of Rupert Brooke (Chicago: Alexander Greene, 1927), 11, 16-17. The passage continues, 'Every woman who passes-and every other man-stops, turns round, to look at that lithe and radiant figure. The wind, the dirty Chicago wind, is blowing Chicago dust and Illinois Central cinders through his hair-longish, wavy, the colour of his skin: a sort of bleached gold, both of them, from the sun of his lagoons, where day after day and month after month he had lived in a loin-cloth, spearing fish, writing poetry, making love. His suit is the colour of his hair. It seems as if the youth of all the world, singing and sun-golden, were, in an unastonished ecstasy and Chicago, tramping the paved side-walks of the City of God.'

[43] Browne, Recollections, 12-13. On page 14, Browne quotes a sonnet by Arthur Ficke, titled 'Portrait of Rupert Brooke,' that celebrates the occasion:

    One night-the last we were to have of you-
    High up above the city's giant roar
    We sat around you on the studio floor-
    Since chairs were lame or stoney or too few-
    And as you read, and the low music grew,
    In exquisite tendrils twining the heart's core,
    All the conjecture we had felt before
    Flashed into torch-flame, and at last we knew.

    And Maurice, who in silence long has hidden
    A voice like yours, became a wreck of joy,
    To inarticulate ecstasies beguiled.
    And you, as from some secret world now bidden
    To make return, stared up, and like a boy
    Blushed suddenly, and looked at us, and smiled.

This sonnet is less maudlin than some of the many poetic tributes to Brooke, by Browne and others.

[44] Diary-letter of Ellen Van Volkenburg quoted in Browne, Recollections, 21-31. See also Maurice Browne, Too Late to Lament; an Autobiography (London: Gollancz, 1955), 163, and Brooke to E. J. Dent, May 1914, Brooke, Letters, 585.

[45] Brooke to Marsh, from Hotel McAlpin, New York City, 24 May [1914], Brooke, Letters, 589; he wants Marsh to impress Bottomley's King Lear's Wifeon them.

[46] The play was produced on tour but not in Chicago. See Browne, Recollections, 35-37.

[47] Brooke to Monroe, 19 July 1914, and 26 January 1915, Harriet Monroe Papers, University of Chicago.

[48] President Hadley to Mrs. Brooke, April 19, 1915, as reported in the Rugby bulletin, The Meteor, for 5 June 1916, at page 46. Rupert Brooke was the first recipient of the Howland Memorial Prize. The Howland prize was established by his family as a memorial to Judge Henry Elias Howland, a graduate of Yale University. According to the conditions of the prize, it was to be awarded biennially 'to the citizen of any country in recognition of some achievement of marked distinction in the field of literature or fine arts, or the science of government. An important factor in the selection shall be the idealistic element in the recipient's work.' 'Howland Memorial Prize,' in Historical Record of Yale University 1701-1937 (New Haven: Yale University, 1939), 128. Charles P. Howland-one of Judge Howland's children who endowed the prize and a Yale graduate-sent Mrs. Brooke the invitation. Walter de la Mare, in agreeing to represent the family, was not filled with 'unadulterated joy' at the prospect. He wrote Marsh that 'principally I'm a stupidly shy bird that prefers its own small cage.' In the end, he agreed to go because Mrs. Brooke wanted him to go. He toyed around with topics for his lecture, such as 'Magic in Poetry' or 'Truth to Life in Fiction,' used many times, he said, but Marsh urged him to prepare new material for the occasion, and he complied.

[49] Gibson to Marsh, n.d., Berg Collection.

[50] Yale Alumni Weekly, 24 November 1916.

[51] Gibson to Marsh, 12 December 1916, and de la Mare to Marsh, from Vassar College [undated], and 9 March 1917, Berg Collection. De la Mare mentioned seeing Cathleen Nesbitt, who was at last on tour in the United States. See also Nesbitt, Little Love, 101.

[52] Agnes Porter, English B (Boston: Sherman, French & Company, 1917), 61.

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DCLB--A99--Francis, 1.3 May 13, 1999