Rupert Brooke died in April 1915, on the eve of the Gallipoli landings. During the First World War Brooke was the iconic poet-soldier, adored and mimicked by readers and would-be writers—both in and out of uniform—with an international following that has neither been examined nor explained since. The general shift in attitudes toward war and the manner in which the war poets are presented meant that Brooke was recast as the exemplar of pre-war innocence, forever swimming in faintly saccharine, nakedly patriotic streams born of his famous poems. Rupert Brooke in the First World War takes a celebrity of the war who became an idol for fellow writers, politicians, literary elites and the general public, and tells the story of his life and famously romantic death, providing readers a fuller sense not only of the human being and his singular life and circumstances, but also of the world he inhabited, and the passions and tastes of men and women living through a period of great upheaval.
‘Miller is an expert guide to the journalistic efflorescence of war writing… Miller’s book is a valuable reminder of his [Brooke’s] continuing significance for students of the period.’
Roger Ebbatson, Dymock Poets and Friends
‘Miller's succinct study both evokes and deconstructs the
myth of "England's poet-soldier." Her narrative is supported and
enlivened by relevant quotations and illustrations. Though she espouses no
allegiance to a specific critical school, her work is close in spirit to
Pierre's Bourdieu's Rules of Art...especially in
its investigation of the factors that led to Brooke's immediate and
long-lasting canonization. Students and scholars of either the life and poetry
of Rupert Brooke or World War I will find Alisa Miller's book to be discerning
Yann Tholoniat, Michigan War Studies Review
'Miller states in conclusion that her book ‘is an attempt to assess and understand a particular cult figure in the context that created him. And it tries to collate and consider the language, people, and institutions that encouraged them – and him – to be read in the way that they were’ (p. 225). She succeeds admirably in this task, and her book should be of interest to anyone interested in not only Brooke or poetry more generally but also the cultural and institutional underpinnings that helped make the war possible and take the precise form it did.'
Tim Dayton, First World War Studies