Graves, Robert, 1895-1985

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1895-12-07
Death 1985-12-07
Britons
English

Biographical notes:

Robert (Von Ranke) Graves was born in London in 1895. He attended King's College School and Rokeby School, Wimbledon, Copthorne School, Sussex, Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey, 1907-14. In 1926, he received a B. Litt. From St. John's College, Oxford. He was the author of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, autobiographies, historical novels, essays, librettos, criticism, short stories, and children’s books. Graves also translated and edited a number of works. He died in 1985 in Deya, Majorca, Spain.

From the guide to the Notebook, 1908-1909, (Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives and Special Collections)

Robert Graves was an English poet and novelist. Born in London, he was the son of A.P. Graves, who had taken a leading part in the Irish Renaissance in literature and music. Robert Graves was educated at Oxford and served with the British Army in France in World War I. Graves lived at various time in England and Majorca. His early poetry received critical praise. He also collaborated with Laura Riding in "A Survey of Modernist Poetry". He is best known for his historical novels, including "I, Claudius" and "Claudius the God". Other works include "Goodbye to All That" and "The Long Week-End". Graves was professor of poetry at Oxford from 1961 to 1966. The University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections has a mandate to acquire literary papers.

From the description of Robert Graves collection. [1934-1970]. (University of Victoria Libraries). WorldCat record id: 646006422

Robert Graves (24 July 1895 - 7 December 1985) was an English poet, translator and novelist, his work includes popular historical novels such as I, Claudius, King Jesus, The Golden Fleece, and Count Belisarius. His translations of Greek mythology are well respected and continue to dominate the English-language market for mythography.

From the description of Robert Graves letters, 1966-1970. (Southern Illinois University). WorldCat record id: 713038143

Robert Graves was a British poet, novelist, translator, and writer of ballads, children's literature, essays, librettos, and literary criticism.

From the description of Robert Graves collection of papers, 1914-1975. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144652072

From the guide to the Robert Graves collection of papers, 1914-1975, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

English poet, novelist, essayist, and scholar.

From the description of Letters, 1952-1974. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 145435660

Robert Ranke Graves (1895-1985) was an English novelist, poet, and translator of classical texts. His most famous works were his popular historical novels such as I, Claudius .

From the guide to the Robert Graves Collection, 1965, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Robert Graves was an English poet, novelist, translator, and critic. An iconoclastic and highly individualistic writer, Graves was fascinated with the ancient world, and mythology in particular, and constructed his own mythology around the muse of poetry--his White Goddess--that permeates his work. His independent and idiosyncratic writing remains intense, technically astute, and unlike any other.

From the description of Robert Graves correspondence, 1933-1969. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 60573862

Robert Graves lived in Islip from 1921-1926.

From the description of Letter, [1921-1926?, Islip to Mr. Hunt. (University of South Carolina). WorldCat record id: 51253795

Robert Graves (1895-1985), English author.

From the description of Good-bye to all that : an autobiography, 1929-1930 / by Robert Graves. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702201081

English author.

From the description of Autograph letters signed (3) : Majorca, to Brendan Gill, 1971 Apr. 6-1972 Feb. 21-Mar. 23. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269590445

From the description of Why I live in Majorca : [Majorca] : typewritten manuscript unsigned, [195?]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269600733

From the description of Augeias and I : autograph manuscript of the poem, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269561180

Robert Graves was an English poet, novelist, translator, and critic. An iconoclastic and highly individual writer, Graves was fascinated with the ancient world, and mythology in particular, and constructed his own mythology around the muse of poetry--his White Goddess--that permeates his work. His independent and idiosyncratic writing remains intense, technically astute, and unlike any other.

From the description of Robert Graves letters, 1962-1971. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 53458456

Poet.

From the description of Letters, 1949-1975. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 41062970

Robert Graves was a British poet, novelist, critic, and translator. Graves was born in Wimbledon, England, in 1895. Over the course of his lengthy career, he he published fifty-five collections of poetry, fifteen novels (including I, Claudius  in 1934), ten translations, and forty works of nonfiction, autobiography, and literary essays. He spent much of the middle of his life in Majorca and the United States, he eventually returned to England and taught at Oxford. Graves died in 1985.

From the guide to the Robert Graves Letters, 1962-1970, n.d., (Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.)

Robert Graves (1895-1985) is an English poet, novelist, essayist, and scholar.

From the description of Robert Graves letters and photographs, 1943-1960. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122552768

Robert Graves (24 July 1895 --7 December 1985) was an English poet, translator and novelist, his work includes popular historical novels such as I, Claudius, King Jesus, The Golden Fleece, and Count Belisarius. Born in Wimbledon, Graves received his early education at King's College School and Copthorne Prep School, Wimbledon and Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to St John's College, Oxford. In 1926 he took up a post at Cairo University. His translations of Greek mythology are well respected and continue to dominate the English-language market for mythography. On 11 November 1985, Graves was among 16 Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner. The inscription on the stone was written by friend and fellow Great War poet Wilfred Owen. It reads: "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity." Graves was the only poet of the sixteen still living at the time of the commemoration ceremony. Graves died in December 1985 at the age of 90, following a long illness and gradual mental degeneration. He and his wife are buried in the small churchyard on the hill in Deia, overlooking the sea on the northwest coast of Majorca.

From the description of Robert Graves papers, 1917-1962. (Southern Illinois University). WorldCat record id: 298239175

Robert von Ranke Graves was born on 24 July 1895 in Wimbledon, London, the son of Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931), an Irish-born schools inspector and minor poet and lyricist, and Amelie (Amy) Graves née von Ranke (1857-1951). German-born Amy Graves was Alfred Graves's second wife, and on her marriage in 1891 became step-mother to his five children by Jane Cooper (d 1886) - Philip (1870-1953), Mary (Molly) (1877-1949), Richard (1890-1960), Perceval (1881-1979) and Susan (1885-1956) - before giving birth to her own five children, Clarissa (1892-1976), Rosaleen (1894-1989), Robert, Charles (1899-1971) and John (1903-1980).

The Graves's second home, Erinfa in Harlech, Wales, was an important part of family life, alongside literature, their Celtic heritage, and strict adherence to a protestant Christianity. Graves attended Charterhouse school (1909-1914), where he began to write poetry, and obtained a classical exhibition at St John's College, Oxford in 1914. The outbreak of war seemed to offer a brief interruption to the path of straitened parental expectations and study and Graves almost immediately enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He remained in uniform until 1919 and his experiences of trench warfare, which left him with serious injuries and severe shell-shock, are brilliantly documented in his memoir 'Goodbye to All That' (1929). In 1919 Graves married Nancy Nicholson (1899-1977), daughter of the artist William Nicholson (1872-1949). The marriage produced four children, Jenny (1919-1964), David (1920-1943), Catherine (1922-2009) and Samuel (b 1924). Graves and his young family lived first on Boar's Hill, Oxford, where Graves read English at St John's College, and later in Islip, Oxfordshire where Graves attempted to earn a living through his poetry and critical writing. Financial pressures led him to take up the post of professor of English literature at the University of Cairo in 1926, where the family was accompanied by the young American poet Laura Riding (1901-1991) as Graves's literary collaborator.

Returning to London in July 1926 tensions in the relationships between Graves, Nancy Nicholson and Laura Riding were brought to a head when Geoffrey Phibbs, a young Irish poet, entered their circle. In April 1929 Riding appeared to attempt suicide by jumping from a fourth-floor window; later that year Graves and Riding left England. They settled in Deyá, Majorca, eventually building a house, Canelluñ, and forming the nucleus of a small, fluctuating and geographically fluid community that included at various times John Aldridge, Jacob Bronowski, George and Mary Ellidge, Gordon Glover, Karl Goldschmidt (later Gay), Alan Hodge, Ward Hutchinson, Harry Kemp, Len Lye, Tom Matthews, James Reeves, Eirlys Roberts, Montague and Dorothy Simmons and Honor Wyatt. Although Graves always considered himself to be a poet, it was here that he wrote his best selling novels of historical fiction, 'I, Claudius' (1934) and 'Claudius the God' (1935). With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Graves and Riding left Majorca in 1936. Their relationship finally came to an end in1939 in Pennsylvania at the farm of Schuyler Jackson, an admirer of Riding's poetry: Riding and Jackson married in 1941 and Graves returned to England in 1939 having fallen in love with Beryl Hodge (née Pritchard) (1915-2003), the wife of Alan Hodge. Graves and Beryl first went to stay in Great Bardfield with the painter John Aldridge, later moving to Galmpton, Devon for the remainder of the war years. These were productive years for Graves: his poetry from this period is often singled out for admiration; he also published 'Sergeant Lamb of the Ninth' (1940), 'Proceed Sergeant Lamb' (1941), 'Wife to Mr Milton' (1943) and 'The Golden Fleece' (1944); 'The Long Weekend' (1940) and 'The Reader Over Your Shoulder' (1943) with Alan Hodge; and although 'King Jesus' (1946) and 'The White Goddess' (1948) were published later the war years saw much of the writing and research for these two works. 'The White Goddess' - subtitled 'a historical grammar of poetic myth' is an extraordinary study of poetic inspiration.

Three of his four children with Beryl were born during the war - William (b1940) Lucia (b1943) and Juan (b1944); their fourth child was Tomas (b 1953). In 1946 Graves returned with his new family to Deyá where he lived until his death in 1985. In addition to poetry, which he continued writing until the 1970s when ill health incapacitated him, Graves worked on a wide range of subjects and genres. He published the novels 'Seven Days in New Crete' (1949), 'The Islands of Unwisdom' (1949) 'Homer's Daughter' (1955), 'They Hanged My Saintly Billy' (1957) and numerous short stories. His continued engagement with the classical world was reflected in his translations of Apuleius's 'The Golden Ass' (1950), Lucan's 'Pharsalia' (1956), Suetonius's 'The Twelve Caesars' (1957), Homer's 'Iliad' as 'The Anger of Achilles' (1959) and 'The Comedies of Terence' (1962), and his compendium of 'The Greek Myths' (1955).

The Bible and Judaism were another continuing strand of his work: his controversial reworking of the gospels in 'The Nazarene Gospel Restored' (1953) was produced with Joshua Podro, as was 'Jesus in Rome' (1957); 'The Hebrew Myths' (1964) was a collaboration with Raphael Patai. Graves also translated 'The Cross and the Sword' by Manuel de Jesus Galván (1954) and 'Winter in Majorca' by George Sand (1956), adapted his work for film, radio and ballet, wrote a screenplay called 'The World's Delight' drawing on the tales of the Arabian nights, and with his daughter Jenny Nicholson wrote a musical, 'Song of Songs' based on the story of Solomon and Sheba. He also wrote extensively on a wide range of subjects for periodical publication. With the Clark lectures at the University of Cambridge in 1954 and the lectures of his tenure of the professorship of poetry at the University of Oxford (1961-1966) Graves produced a body of idiosyncratic and iconoclastic works of literary criticism. Graves also went on several lucrative lecture tours in America from 1957 and gave occasional later lectures in eastern Europe.

Graves's personal life showed the influence of the ideas he had set out in 'The White Goddess' as, consciously or otherwise, Graves sought out muses to inspire his poetry. Judith Bledsoe (b 1934) filled this role from 1950 to 1952, Margot Callas (b 1934) from 1960 to 1963, Cindy Lee (Aemilia Laraçuen) (1926-2007) from 1963 to 1966, and Juli Simon (b 1949) from 1966 onwards. Despite this turbulence, the marriage to Beryl endured. Following a decade of severe memory loss and dependency, Graves died at his home on 7 December 1985.

Biographies: 'Robert Graves: His Life and Work' Martin Seymour-Smith (Hutchinson, 1983); 'Robert Graves: Life on the Edge' Miranda Seymour (Doubleday, 1995); 'Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic, 1895-1926', 'Robert Graves: The Years with Laura Riding, 1926-1940', 'Robert Graves and the White Goddess, 1940-1985' Richard Perceval Graves (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986, 1990, 1995). Bibliographies: 'A Bibliography of the Writings of Robert Graves' (2nd ed.) F.H. Higginson and William P. Williams (St Paul's Bibliographies, 1987).

From the guide to the Papers of Robert Graves, 1915 to 2006, (St John's College, Oxford)

Robert Graves was an English poet, scholar, and novelist. In 1918, he married Nancy Nicholson with whom he eventually had four children, including Catherine Dalton. Nancy's progressive views on feminism, religion, and social issues, meant that their marriage and the children's upbringing were unconventional. Graves suffered from acute neurasthenia for most of Catherine's early years, the result of his experiences in the First World War, and this, combined with a lack of regular income from either Graves's writing or Nancy's painting, made for a tense family life.

In 1926 the American poet Laura Riding was invited to join their household in Oxford and Cairo, where Graves was lecturing at the University. Riding and Graves collaborated on a number of projects, including the seminal Survey of Modernist Poetry in 1926, but Graves's marriage did not survive. Graves left to live in Spain with Riding.

During World War II, Catherine married Clifford Dalton, a distinguished New Zealand scientist. He died in 1961 of cancer after the war when the couple was living in Australia. Catherine believed her husband had been the victim of physical and mental intimidation by unknown sources which related to both his work with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, for which he was Engineer in Chief, and to his views on the use of nuclear energy. She wrote and published a book giving her account of Professor Dalton's career and the circumstances of his death, as well as what she saw as the persecution she and her children experienced at the hands of Australian government officials after his death.

Graves supported his daughter with the writing of her book, both financially and through direct intervention, including a written appeal to the Queen, a holograph draft of which is included in the current collection, and through correcting her drafts. Catherine remained close with her father and although her permanent home is in Australia, during Graves's later years she spent long periods of time with him in Deyá.

From the guide to the Dalton mss., 1949-1975, (Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington))

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Subjects:

  • Clippings
  • Short stories
  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, British
  • World War, 1914-1918--Sources
  • History
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  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, English
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  • Authors, British--20th century--Archives
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Occupations:

  • Poets
  • Librettists
  • Translator
  • Authors

Places:

  • Majorca (Spain) (as recorded)
  • Spain (as recorded)