Born: November 18, 1872, London, United Kingdom
Died: January 13, 1953, London, United Kingdom
Parents: Frederick Howard Marsh
Books: Rupert Brooke, Letters to an Editor: Georgian Poetry, 1912-1922: An Exhibition from the Berg Collection
Education: Trinity College, Cambridge
Grandparent: Maria Haward
People also search for: Rupert Brooke, Frederick Howard Marsh, Keith Hale, John Dozier Gordan
Lived: 5 Gray's Inn Square, London WC1R 5AH, UK (51.51967, -0.11313)
The Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, commonly known as Gray's Inn, is one of the four Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers and judges) in London. To be Called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray's Inn Road in Central London, the Inn is both a professional body and a provider of office accommodation (chambers) for many barristers.
Address: 5 Gray's Inn Square, London WC1R 5AH, UK (51.51967, -0.11313)
Type: Historic Street (open to public)
In the years leading to the outbreak of WWI and then spanning the next 23 post-war years, an apartment at No 5 Raymond Buildings, Gray’s lnn – remarkable for its fine paintings – lay at the centre of a network of emerging poets and other artists. This was the home, until bombed in 1941, of the polymath and senior Civil Servant, Edward (Eddie) Marsh (knighted in 1937), who in 1905 became Private Secretary to Winston Churchill when the latter was made Under-Secretary for the Colonies. The importance of Marsh as the patron of artists, however, ranks even higher than his distinguished career as a public servant. His patronage was of the utmost value because he had access to many friends in the fields of politics, art and literature, regularly spending weekends amongst them at grand country house parties. Above all, he had money – always useful to young impoverished artists. The ever sociable Eddie was also an entertaining host, usually over breakfast at No 5, cooked by his loyal housekeeper Mrs Elgy, ‘an apple-faced woman from Derbyshire’. Breakfast guests might include Rupert Brooke, Stanley Spencer, Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas, Paul Nash and W.H. Davies. To this list ought to be added the name of Lady Eileen Wellesley, daughter of the Duke of Wellington and Rupert Brooke’s lover, whose hair pins were found in Brooke’s bed at No 5 by a shocked Mrs Elgy. In May 1914, Sassoon at last broke free from his family home in Kent and moved to live at No 1 Raymond Buildings, WC1R which if nothing else was close to Marsh. Sassoon engaged a housekeeper, Mrs Fretter, who appeared “economic” or so he told Marsh. At this time Raymond Buildings was regarded as at the “noisy end of Gray’s Inn,” being too close to the interminable traffic on the Theobalds Road. Sassoon was not so much disturbed by that as by his inability to make ends meet despite the estimable Mrs Fretter. He was never very domesticated and, aged 27, had lived a very sheltered life at home, writing poetry, playing cricket and golf, and going fox-hunting. He had overspent furnishing No 1, and rather than concentrating on writing and improving his prospects, he purchased a rolled up umbrella and bowler hat, and from the top deck of a bus became a tourist and generally a man-about-town. It proved disastrous, and soon he was back living with his mother, but not before he met Rupert Brooke. This was over bacon and kidneys at a breakfast meeting at No 5, which from 1909 was Brooke’s unofficial London home, encouraged by the ever indulgent Marsh. (Mrs Elgy, however, disliked Brooke’s preference forr eating meals on a tray whilst sprawled on the sitting-room floor propped up by cushions.) From 1592 to 1594 also Anthony Bacon stayed with his brother Francis in Francis’ chambers at Gray’s Inn. Together, they established a scrivenery employing scriveners who acted as secretaries, writers, translators, copyists and cryptographers, dealing with correspondence, translations, copying, ciphers, essays, books, plays, entertainments and masques.
Who: Sir Edward Howard Marsh KCVO CB CMG (November 18, 1872 – January 13, 1953)
Edward Marsh was a British polymath, translator, arts patron and civil servant. He was the sponsor of the Georgian school of poets and a friend to many poets, including Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon. In his career as a civil servant he worked as Private Secretary to a succession of Great Britain's most powerful ministers, particularly Winston Churchill. He was a discreet but influential figure within Britain's homosexual community. Marsh's father was (Frederick) Howard Marsh, a surgeon and later Master of Downing College, Cambridge. His mother, born Jane Perceval, was a granddaughter of prime minister Spencer Perceval. Jane, a nurse, was one of the founders of the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease; Howard was a surgeon at the hospital. A classical scholar and translator, Marsh edited five anthologies of Georgian Poetry between 1912 and 1922, and he became Rupert Brooke's literary executor, editing his “Collected Poems” in 1918. Later in life he published verse translations of “La Fontaine” and “Horace,” and a translation of Fromentin's novel, “Dominique.” The sales of the first three Georgian Poetry anthologies were impressive, ranging between 15,000 and 19,000 copies apiece. Marsh and the critic J. C. Squire were the group's most important patrons. In 1931, he won a literary contest with a new stanza for “Paradise Lost,” which repairs the omission of how “Adam and Eve Brush Their Teeth.” “His Ambrosia and Small Beer” appeared in 1964, recording a correspondence with Christopher Hassall. Marsh was also a consistent collector and supporter of the works of the avant-garde artists Mark Gertler, Duncan Grant, David Bomberg and Paul Nash, all of whom were also associated with the Bloomsbury Group. In addition to his work editing Churchill's writing while the latter was in or out of government, Marsh introduced Siegfried Sassoon to Churchill as a means of aiding the former's career. He was also a close friend of Ivor Novello. In 1939, he produced “A Number of People,” a memoir of his life and times containing his memories of those writers and politicians with whom he had associated.
by Elisa Rolle
Queer Places, Vol. 2 edited by Elisa Rolle
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