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Tuesday, 2 January, 2001, 13:09 GMT
WWI poet target for taxman

Rupert Brooke: 1887-1915
Taxes paid by the family of World War I poet Rupert Brooke were scrutinised by the Inland Revenue when it realised how popular his works had become after his death.

Brooke, known for his poems including The Old Vicarage, Grantchester and The Soldier, died during active service in 1915.

His family asked for permission to wind up his estate in January 1916.

But the taxman wanted to hear more about Brooke's copyrights and royalties gained from sales, which soared after he died.

The file was made public on Tuesday by the Public Record Office at Kew, south west London.

The family's solicitor replied: "There was no value as regards any such assets at the time of the deceased's death.

"We have seen Mrs Parker Brooke, mother of the deceased, and she confirms ... that the copyrights and royalties in existence on her son's death were of no value and the only volume of poems published at his death was a small volume published in 1911, and that no profits accrued to the deceased in respect of these nor has she received any."

Brooke's London publishers, Sidgwick and Jackson, also confirmed that "the profit was so trifling that the copyright cannot hardly be said to have any value at the time of his death".

But sales did rise in the six months after his death, they added.

"It is not too much to say that all the pecuniary value of his poetry arose in the first instance out of the circumstances of his death and therefore at the time of his death was non-existent," they added.

In February 1925, the taxman ruled Brooke's family had paid 3.3s too much in death duty.

The family did not try to reclaim it as it would have cost too much in legal fees.

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