Letters reveal Rupert Brooke's doomed love

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His most famous work has always suggested that his first love was his country. However, previously unseen letters from the First World War poet Rupert Brooke show that his true devotion was to an Edwardian actress whom he bombarded with marriage proposals.

The man whose powerful The Soldier opens with the immortal line "If I should die, think only this of me" was so preoccupied with Cathleen Nesbitt's "divine" beauty that he demanded weekly updates on her health, weight and temperature.

Brooke's affections are laid bare in more than 80 love letters, obtained by the British Library, which were sent to Nesbitt during the two years leading up to the poet's death at the age of 27 in 1915.

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