ROBERT GRAVES Biography - Famous Poets and dancers


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Robert Graves, poet, novelist, biographer, mythographer, classical scholar and             
translator was born in 1895 in Wimbledon, a well-to-do suburb of London, and               
died in 1985 in Deja, the Majorcan village he had made his home (with the                   
exception of the Spanish civil war and the Second World War) since 1929. Graves             
married twice. His first marriage to Nancy Nicholson, the daughter of the                   
painter William Nicholson, produced four children: Jenny, David, Catherine and             
Sam. His second marriage to Beryl Pritchard produced a further four children:               
William, Lucia, Juan and Tomas.                                                             
Graves' career spanned the majority of the 20th century. He was a youthful                 
witness to the evolution of this century's self-conscious notion of its own                 
modernity. He nearly died fighting for a belief in nation and England at a time             
when modern ideals were displacing the notion of 'for king and country' with               
sometimes contradictory socio-political ideals. He witnessed the same upheavals             
and suffered many of the same trials of his avant-garde contemporaries (such as             
Breton, Soupault and Apollinaire in France and T.E. Hulme, David Jones and                 
Wyndham Lewis in Britain) in the First World War yet, along with other poets               
like Edward Thomas, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, wrote about them very               
differently. He saw things going wrong again and decided then to say 'Goodbye to           
All That' and try out life on his own terms.                                               
His own terms led him to domestic crisis as he separated from his wife and his             
family to follow a dominant and domineering woman and poet. His own terms saw               
him abandon, not just England, but the modern world, modern living and modernism           
to move to a rural village in a remote part of an island set off from the                   
European mainland where he could write the books that he thought needed to be               
written: some might say for himself, others, the books that he thought a sane               
world needed. One thing is certain, Graves' life itself was very rarely stable.             
The period immediately following Robert Graves' birth is described in an amusing           
an impressionistic manner in the opening pages of his autobiography. The                   
juxtaposed images of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee procession, that he                   
witnessed at the age of two or three, and then that of the terror of his                   
encounter with his father's Shakespeare folios say much: his family was                     
patriotic, upper middle class, well-educated and strict.                                   
His childhood seems unremarkable and his struggles through adolescence at the               
British public school, Charterhouse, seem rather de rigeur: he disliked and was             
disliked by most of his peers and was afraid of the majority of his masters.               
Toward those whose company he did seek, he developed rather innocent though                 
clearly earnest homosexual feelings. He was expected to go up to Oxford where he           
had already secured a classical scholarship at St. John's. Like most adolescents,           
Graves viewed has father as an oppressive patriarch and, with the convenient               
outbreak of the Great War, thought he had an opportunity to escape childhood and           
oppression for manhood and glory.                                                           
Graves' own poetry and prose is the best source for a description of his war               
experiences. It suffices to say that Graves found neither manhood nor glory but             
terror and madness in the war. He was wounded, left for dead and pronounced dead           
by his surgeon in the field and his commanding officer in a telegram to his                 
parents but subsequently recovered to read the report of his own demise in The             
Times. Amazingly, given the extent and the nature of his wounds, Graves made a             
full recovery and was assured of home-service for the duration of the war.                 
However, like many of his fellow invalided combatants, though home in the most 'honourable' 
circumstances possible, Graves could not overcome the feeling of guilt that he             
had left his soldiers in peril while he himself was safe. He managed to have               
himself posted back to the front. Before seeing action again though, he was met             
by his company surgeon who threatened him with court-martial if he did not                 
immediately remove himself from the front.                                                 
He returned to England and tried to make himself as useful as possible to his               
regiment in training troops for service in France while maintaining contact with           
his fellow poets. Graves played an important part, for example, in saving                   
Sassoon from court-martial after the latter published a manifesto denouncing the           
war. The story is well documented in the biographies as well as in Pat Barker's             
Regeneration trilogy and in the film of the same title.                                     
Before the armistice, Graves married Nancy Nicholson. Nancy was a 'modern woman'           
who refused to take on Graves' names and preferred wearing trousers to dresses (much,       
according to the biographers, to his mother's dismay!). Though their                       
relationship was initially happy and productive (Nancy and Robert worked on a               
children's book together), the stress of family life, little money and Robert's             
persistent shell-shocked condition caused them troubles. It is not surprising,             
then, that Laura Riding's arrival spelled the beginning of the end of their                 
Luara Riding and Robert Graves' relationship was immensely influential upon both           
of their lives and careers. After Riding's arrival in England, she began to                 
exert an influence on more than just Graves' writing. Following a sequence of               
events so crazy that they seem more suitable to fiction than reality (including,           
for example, Laura Riding leaping from a third floor window and breaking her               
pelvic bone in three places), Graves abandoned his family and moved with Riding             
from England to Spain. The events of this period were so momentous that all                 
three biographers, Martin Seymour-Smith, Richard Perceval Graves and Miranda               
Seymour, dedicate a significant proportion of their studies to them.                       
Miranda Seymour has also written a novel, The Telling, that recounts the                   
continuation of the sad story. Seymour's novel fictionalises the events that               
occur after Graves and Riding's arrival in Pennsylvania where they travelled, on           
Riding's prompting, after Graves' friend, the editor of Time Magazine, Tom                 
Matthews, secured a good review of Riding's poetry. The reviewer, Schuyler                 
Jackson, his wife and four children invited Graves and Riding into their home.             
As Richard Perceval Graves in the third volume of his biography tells it:                   
Having decided that the handsome Schuyler must be hers, Laura had behaved with             
calculated ferocity. Schuyler Jackson's wife Kit, the good-natured mother of               
their four young children, was a serious obstacle; but within six weeks, through           
sheer force of will, Riding had reduced her to a demented and violent creature             
prepared to 'confess' to witchcraft before being removed to an insane asylum. By           
then, the atmosphere of horror had become so pervasive that many of those                   
present would come to believe that they had been in the presence of great                   
spiritual evil.                                                                             
On Kit's departure, Laura Riding had taken over the running of the Pennsylvania             
farmhouse in the hamlet of Brownsburg, just south of New Hope, Pennsylvania,               
which she and Robert and a few other members of her inner circle had been                   
sharing with the Jacksons. Soon afterwards, she had disappeared into a bedroom             
with Schuyler for two days, emerging to announce (for the benefit of anyone who             
was uncertain about her present views on the subject) that 'Schuyler and I do'.             
(Robert Graves and The White Goddess, 5)                                                   
Clearly this and Laura's leap through a window is stuff for the silver screen.             
Even in a post-Fatal Attraction Hollywood context, it's difficult to imagine               
these events in anything other than a Hollywood Schlock-buster. Yet, it seems as           
though R. P. Graves' description of events is, and perhaps justifiably, biased.             
There seems little doubt that, at this time of her life, Riding exerted control             
over a number of individuals who idolised and idealised her. Catherine Dalton,             
Graves' daughter of the first marriage, perhaps best expresses the family's                 
feelings toward Riding. In Seán ó Mórdha's documentary on Graves' life for the             
BBC series 'Bookmark', Catherine and Robert's daughter of the second marriage,             
Lucia, go to the Bloomsbury house on St. Peter's Square where Laura made her               
famous leap. Lucia describes the event, as though to Catherine but actually for             
the benefit of the camera. When she reaches the dramatic conclusion: Laura                 
shouting 'Goodbye chaps' and making her leap, Catherine adds: 'I suppose she               
survived... she shouldn't have, but she did. A mistake, I think.'                           
It's easy to vilify Laura Riding. Graves was but one victim of her personality             
and her ambition. But then, Graves had his victims too. What cannot be                     
questioned is the value of some of the work that they did together. Much of it             
remains important to both literary history as well as to scholarship. Together,             
they founded the small, yet important, Seizin Press, co-authored two very                   
successful books (A Survey of Modernist Poetry, London: Heinemann, 1927 and A               
Pamphlet Against Anthologies, London: Cape, 1928) as well as a disastrous novel,           
published under the pseudonym 'Barbara Rich' entitled No Decency Left.                     
A Survey, in fact, is the first published work that describes the poems being               
written by Eliot, Pound, cummings, Stein, and Sitwell amongst others of the                 
period as 'modernist'. It is also ironically, as some critics argue, not only               
the first work of criticism on the Modernists but also the first anti-Modernist             
criticism. It is safe to say, in the context of works such as A Survey and A               
Pamplet that neither Graves nor Riding would have evolved as they did had it not           
been for one another. They influenced each others' works throughout their years             
together (1926-1939). Numerous biographers and scholars have argued, and quite             
correctly at that, that the relationship continued to influence their works long           
after they separated.                                                                       
Before Riding, indeed, before Nancy, there were several other influential people,           
places and events in his life. Both of his parents, Alfred and Amy, proved an               
influence on Graves. Alfred because he, himself, was a poet and an educator and             
Amy because of her stern Victorian temper. There are several emphatic statements           
in Graves' autobiography, Goodbye To All That, that express Graves' attitude               
toward his parents' influence on his development beyond question. Not the least             
of these is the moment when Graves, returned home as a disenchanted, embittered             
and wounded soldier is put on 'parade' by his parents, proudly patriotic,                   
completely Victorian and entirely ignorant of their son's frustration and                   
embarrassment (1957, Penguin, 165-7). Here, the circle from the first page of               
the autobiography is squared: Graves' 'modern' attitudes are in conflict with               
his parent's old-fashioned mores. However, it also should not be forgotten that             
Graves and his friends relied on Alfred's literary reputation and, most                     
especially, on his literary connections to see their own work published and                 
favourably reviewed. Alfred represented the poetry of both Robert and Siegfried             
Sassoon, for example, while they were serving the trenches.                                 
It is a sad fact that Robert did not participate in his father's centenary                 
celebrations. One could suppose that his absence suggested that he was afraid to           
admit his adolescent indulgence in denigrating his father now that he was a                 
mature and established poet in his own right. Graves absence suggests that he               
was afraid to admit that his father was an important reason for the early                   
successes of his own career-and besides, it was highly unfashionable to be close           
to a father who was so clearly a relic of another era (Robert Graves and the               
White Goddess, 124-5).                                                                     
Robert Graves had various mentors throughout his career; however, he encountered           
three of the most significant during the war and in his Oxford days: W. H. R.               
Rivers, T. E. Lawrence and Basanta Mallick. All three, at various stages,                   
dominated Graves' thought and influenced his work but, unlike the ideas of many             
of the more 'fashionable' theorists that Riding insisted that she and Graves               
subscribe to, all three remained, to a greater or lesser extent, influences on             
Graves' life and work.                                                                     
After Graves' return from America, his relationship with Beryl Graves began in             
earnest. As the war began, England was in turmoil and Graves began trying to               
assemble a new life and begin a new family. Indeed, based in Devon as the rest             
of Europe was drawn into a vortex, he and Beryl briefly experienced something of           
a personal peace. The terror of Laura Riding had faded and their life was                   
beginning anew. However, anything like an 'idyll' was impossible at this time               
and soon the events of the war began to overtake them in the most dramatic ways.           
In 1943 Robert Graves received the dreadful news that his son, David, was                   
missing in action. While he and Nancy held out hope that he would be found alive           
or that he might have been taken prisoner, later reports suggested otherwise.               
David, Robert and Nancy learned, had been shot while attempting to single-handedly         
take out a well-defended enemy position. The chances that he had survived were             
not good.                                                                                   
By 1946 as England and Europe began to survey its post-War state, Graves managed           
to secure transport for his family back to Majorca. Once safely back there, then           
other than annual trips to England, occasional visits to the continent and even             
rarer trips to America, the Graves' made Deya their home for good.                         
The period began what should have remained a period of domestic harmony and                 
literary productivity; however, after 1948 and the publication of The White                 
Goddess, as Graves' fame and celebrity grew, Graves began a period of                       
discovering muses who provided him with a flesh-and-blood manifestation of his             
poetic and mythic muse. Some of these relationships were short, others seemed               
largely innocent and more flirtatious than serious or deeply poetic; however,               
four were, without doubt, significant to Graves' life and, subsequently, to his             
Graves' first muse after Nancy Nicholson, Laura Riding and Beryl Graves, indeed,           
the first after he articulated his White Goddess theories, was Judith Bledsoe.             
Judith, by all accounts, was a naïve young girl who found in the older Graves               
something of a father figure whose intellect and worldly knowledge was appealing.           
Graves found in her the physical embodiment of the White Goddess. It seems that             
in the case of Judith, as in the muses that followed, who or what the person               
might actually have been seemed less important to Graves than what he believed             
the person to be. And so Judith who at first was clearly enamoured with the                 
attention she was receiving began to buckle under the pressure and, as R. P.               
Graves reports, Beryl "... took Judith out to lunch alone, and quite calmly                 
asked her whether she wanted Robert or not. To which Judith could only protest,             
quite honestly, that she loved Beryl and Robert more than her mother and father,           
and that she had no intention of doing anything to injure their marriage" (The             
White Goddess, 188).                                                                       
Again, this document is only intended to be a brief survey of the life and works           
of Graves and the biographers give a much fairer treatment of the complications             
and the intricacies of Robert's fascinatingly convoluted life where I can only             
reduce and summarise.                                                                       
Graves had three further muses in his life: Margot, Cindy and Juli. Of the three,           
Cindy was potentially the most destructive to Graves. Her story is painful to               
read and I refer the reader to any of the biographies for the account though I             
do think that Miranda Seymour's might be the best. Juli, the fourth and last               
muse, took on the role only toward the end of his life and then, it seems, was             
there as a salve to his battered mind and spirit and less a temptress and                   
inspiration. Though, it is true, that his last good poems were written for and             
about her.                                                                                 
Over his long career but most especially at the height of his fame, Graves had             
many celebrity friends including films stars like Ava Gardner and Ingrid Bergman,           
fellow writers like T. S. Eliot and Gertrude Stein, and was courted (to the                 
annoyance of the general Deyan population) by tens of hangers-on and aspiring               
poets. He was, himself, a celebrity whose appearance on television and radio               
programmes virtually guaranteed a good audience.                                           
Robert Graves passed away on December 7, 1985 after a long and slow mental and             
physical disintegration. He is buried in Deya. His marker is a simple concrete             
slate with the inscription: "Robert Graves, Poeta, 1895-1985".                             
Part Two - A critical overview of Robert Graves' Works                                     
Robert Graves is probably best known as the author of I, Claudius and Claudius             
the God (1934), a two-volume fictional autobiography of the Roman emperor of the           
first century that was serialised for television broadcasting by the BBC. If the           
Claudius books are well known because of their world-wide television, an almost             
equal audience has been introduced to Graves through his autobiography, Goodbye             
to All That (first published in 1929 and then substantially revised for a new               
edition in 1957). Graves, however would most like to have been best remembered             
as a poet and, indeed, for a time received numerous accolades that suggested               
that that might be the case. He was made the Professor of Poetry at Oxford and             
was asked to give the prestigious Clark Lectures at Cambridge. He was awarded               
the Queen's Medal for Poetry as well as made a member of the American Academy               
for Poets. He was invited to deliver numerous lectures in America that would               
have proved quite lucrative. He was, not surprisingly, very seriously considered           
for the Nobel Prize around this time.                                                       
While his reputation as a novelist is modest, it is relatively constant. Several           
of his works including the Claudius books and Wife to Mr Milton have been in               
print ever since they were first published. Others, like King Jesus, sold-out               
their initial war-time print run of 12,000 in their first week and continue to             
be reprinted by various presses on both sides of the Atlantic from time to time.           
His reputation as a poet though has been less secure. His slim volume, Collected           
Poems 1938-45, probably because of his success with his fiction sold out its               
initial print run of 5000 almost immediately and was well reviewed. Sales of               
5000 copies of a poetry book are impressive (well, at least until the recent               
records set by Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters) for any age but for post-War                   
England they were very good indeed.                                                         
Much of Graves' poetic reputation is bound up with his theories on poetry. Many             
critics have done so already (and it is a worthwhile exercise if one is to come             
to more than a superficial understanding of his poetry) but tracing the theories           
that he eventually wrote up in his The White Goddess (Faber, 1948) as important             
elements throughout his career can valuably inform one's reading of his poetry.             
The prominence of his own and very particular theories on poetry--their very               
necessity to his verse is one likely explanation for the susceptibility of his             
poetry to critical fashion. Graves' ideas on poetry are highly esoteric and                 
critical schools that dominate academia at various times tend not to accept what           
may seem too individual and too indulgent for their otherwise doctrinate                   
However, just as reoccurrences of The White Goddess throughout his poetry can,             
for some critics, mar his work, it also makes Graves a part of an important                 
British tradition. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, books on the           
anti-rational anthropology of culture and myth have been a hallmark of a highly             
esoteric but also scholarly tradition that includes authors like Matthew Arnold,           
Andrew Lang, W.B. Yeats, James Fraser, Jane Harrison and Joseph Campbell. The 'Movement'   
poets who rose to prominence in the 1950s like John Wain, DJ Enright and Donald             
Davie first appreciated Graves' poetry because of its effort to be a part of a             
tradition considered particularly English. Some, like Davie, soon revised their             
opinions but as his presence and reading at the Graves Centenary conference at             
St John's College in Oxford in 1995 suggest, he continued to appreciate Graves.             
Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, for two other examples, though hardly poets one               
would term Gravesians, at various stages of their careers paid tributes to                 
Graves' poetry and especially to his The White Goddess.                                     
Modern 'continental' literary criticism as it is practised in Anglo-American               
universities, owes much to William Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity which,                 
itself, is largely indebted to the methodology of the analysis of Shakespeare's             
Sonnets performed by Graves and Riding in A Survey of Modernist Poetry.                     
Indeed, in his career, there was little that Graves did not touch upon, and few             
'experts' whom he did not offend by venturing into their fields. Graves was the             
author of numerous other works, some of which will be discussed below, of which             
the most popular were:                                                                     
The Greek Myths (1955), a two volume dictionary of Greek mythology produced for             
Penguin. Graves' work on mythology became a virtual mini-industry producing                 
various off-shoots in the form of children's guides to Greek God's and Heroes               
and so forth. The Greek Myths, in particular, set Graves afoul of classics                 
departments in England and in America.                                                     
The Golden Ass (1950), a translation of Apuleius' The Golden Ass that still                 
remains in print today (though updated and amended by the classicist Michael               
Grant). Also a work that troubled and continues to trouble classical scholars.             
Lawrence and the Arabs (1927), the first authorised biography of T.E. Lawrence             
that was written largely on the basis of the then unpublishable manuscript of               
the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.                                                               
Count Belisarius (1938), a historical novel about the last Roman Emperor to win             
a campaign for the, then, Eastern Roman Empire.                                             
Hercules, My Shipmate (1945) (The Golden Fleece (1944)), a novel about the                 
voyage of the Argo. Written with his ideas on The White Goddess as a cultural/anthropological
backdrop to the ancient Greek tale.                                                         
King Jesus (1946), an historical novel based on the theory and Graves' own                 
historical conjecture that Jesus was, in fact, the rightful heir to the                     
Israelite throne. Also written while he was researching and developing his ideas           
for The White Goddess.                                                                     
Wife to Mr Milton (1943), a scathing attack on the character of Milton written             
from the point of view of Marie Milton.                                                     
The Long Weekend (1941), a social history of Great Britain between the wars. Co-authored   
with Alan Hodge.                                                                           
Seven Days in New Crete (1949), a novel about a social distopia in which Goddess           
worship is (once again?) the dominant religion.                                             
The Nazarene Gospel Restored (1953). A book that sets out to correct what the               
authors perceived to be anachronisms and inaccuracies introduced to the gospels             
by Christian scribes. Co-authored with Joshua Podro.                                       
The Hebrew Myths (1964). A treatment of Hebrew myths and legends written in the             
exegetical manner of The Greek Myths. Co-authored with Raphael Patai.                       
Graves was the author or the editor of over 140 books or collections of essays             
or poetry. Carcanet Press is now re-issuing a large number of these books in a             
24 volume uniform edition.                                                                 
Part Three: A Survey of Critical and Biographical Studies for further reference.           
Robert Graves ceased writing after his 80th birthday and his celebrity slowly               
began to fade. However, where his own career stopped, the critical/ academic               
industry was just beginning.                                                               
Several significant works had already appeared before his death in 1985. The               
most notable was the biography by Martin Seymour-Smith, Robert Graves: His Life             
and His Work, first published in 1983 and updated in 1995. Seymour-Smith's                 
biography is, like the author, very opinionated. But because of the author's               
immense knowledge and his writerly skills, his opinions are rarely intrusive.               
The other two significant biographical studies that have been published are the             
well-written Life on the Edge by Miranda Seymour and the superbly researched               
three-volume biography by R.P Graves.                                                       
R.P's third volume and Miranda Seymour's book were both published in 1995, the             
year of Robert's centenary celebrations. Both have their strong points. Seymour's           
work is very readable and provides a good analysis and speculations on the                 
psychological motivations for some of Robert's actions. R.P's biography is very             
well researched and all of his research is very well documented-sometimes at the           
cost of the flow of the story. However, from a scholarly perspective, R.P's                 
tomes are essential. Combined with Martin Seymour-Smith's biography, one really             
has all the crucial background material for initiating a study into Graves' life           
and work to hand.                                                                           
The first critical study on Graves' poetry was also written by Martin Seymour-Smith,       
in 1956! The pamphlet for the British Council's Writers and Their Works series             
was, in many ways, too early a work. Much of Graves' writing was still to come.             
J.M. Cohen also wrote a study on Graves that may have appeared too soon. Cohen's           
study was along the lines of Seymour-Smith's: a short volume that attempted to             
survey the entirety of Graves' literary and poetic output and to connect it to             
his life. Published in 1960, Cohen's Robert Graves published for the Writers and           
Critics series was important in defining a nascent critical attitude toward                 
Douglas Day's Swifter Than Reason, however, was, and continues to be, an                   
essential study of his poetry and criticism. Published in 1963, for Chapel Hill,           
Day's study follows the patterns defined by Seymour-Smith and Cohen but is more             
detached and modern in its critical attitudes.                                             
Finally, of the early surveys, George Stade's volume for the Columbia Essays on             
Modern Writers Series published in 1967 cements, as it were, the pattern for the           
approach that criticism will take toward Robert Graves and his work.                       
A career as long and as varied as Robert Graves' must, by the way that academia             
works, be chopped up and divided. Graves' life, for all of its twists and loops             
has several moments whose peaks are slightly higher than the other peaks or lows           
whose lows are slightly lower than the other lows. Between the early critics:               
Seymour-Smith, Cohen, Day, Stade and, implicitly, because he tended to vet any             
secondary criticism that required his copyright permissions, Robert Graves                 
himself, a pattern for Graves' life and career began to emerge: Stern Anglo-Irish           
upbringing, Charterhouse, the Great War, Nancy Nicholson and Oxford, Laura                 
Riding and then the White Goddess.                                                         
It was not until Michael Kirkham's The Poetry of Robert Graves (Athlone Press,             
1967) that a new phase was added: that of the Black Goddess. Kirkham's study is             
important because, along with Day's, it begins to attempt something like a                 
criticism that is less concerned with pleasing the subject than it is with                 
cutting to core and asking the sort of questions that need to be asked about a             
poet's work. However, Kirkham also needed Graves' permission to quote and a                 
certain air of complicity between subject and author-of the author writing what             
he believed the subject may have wanted to read, continues to disturb the                   
otherwise incisive critical voice in this book.                                             
Since the 1960s the Gravesian critical industry has not been quiet; however,               
book length studies have become more rare. Patrick Keane's A Wild Civility:                 
Interactions in the Poetry of Robert Graves (1980) was the first major work                 
published since Kirkham's.                                                                 
DNG Carter's, Robert Graves: The Lasting Poetic Achievement (1989) followed on             
from Keane's but both works do little that their predecessors had not                       
accomplished. Granted, the critical apparatus of both of these works is greatly             
improved and both should be referred to for any study that has ambitions of                 
furthering Gravesian studies, or even of assessing what has been written to date.           
A more recent book-length study is Patrick Quinn's The Great War and the Missing           
Muse (AUP, 1994). Quinn's book, as the title suggests, focuses its attention on             
poetry written as a direct result of the Great War. Quinn's study questions the             
notion of the influence of the war and of the traditional role of the muse to               
the poetry of the period. The book divides its attention between the poetry of             
Graves and of Siegfried Sassoon and marks a significant departure from the                 
earlier works by giving attention to a single aspect of Graves' life and work.             
John Smeds' Statement and Story, the most recent work, published by Abö Akademy             
Press, is, again, a work that pays attention to one aspect of Graves' life and             
his work, albeit a rather inclusive one in this case: Graves' use of myth in his           
poetry and his prose. Smeds' study is a useful one; however, it is, rather                 
unfortunately, a printing of a doctoral thesis without having had any of its               
self-consciously academic apparatus or defensive mechanisms removed. Most                   
readers may find the doctoral apparatus an obstacle that disrupts the otherwise             
intriguing analysis.                                                                       
Very importantly, for all Gravesians, is the new 24 volume edition of Graves'               
works that is being prepared by various editors for Carcanet Press under the               
supervision of Patrick Quinn. Seven volumes, including the three volume Complete           
Poems (edited by Beryl Graves and Dunstan Ward) have already appeared.                     
Other indispensable sources for primary research include the two volume                     
collection of letters: In Broken Images and Between Moon and Moon published in             
1982 by Moyer Bell (edited by Paul O'Prey). Since 1982, many new letters have               
been discovered and previously unknown correspondents have surfaced. The first             
two volumes of letters will continue to stand as 'firsts' in the Gravesian canon           
but a new more complete collection is crucial if Graves studies are to be                   
furthered significantly.                                                                   
Two of Graves' children William and Lucia have published autobiographical                   
accounts of their years with Robert. William's Wild Olives is more immediately             
about his father than is Lucia's A Woman Unknown: Voices from a Spanish Life.               
Both books are riveting and titillating; however, the latter is more self-consciously       
autobiographical. William's book doesn't hesitate to reveal his father's                   
unpleasant characteristics while Lucia's book shows, quite naturally, that                 
Robert Graves was not the centre of everyone's world. Lucia's father passes in             
and out of her story and is a dramatic presence only where an event is dramatic             
to Lucia. Both are crucial reading for anyone who wants, first of all a good               
read, but also wants to be able to see through something of the myth of the                 
legend of Robert Graves.                                                                   
Finally, during the 1970s, a journal called 'Focus' was founded to provide a               
forum for the findings of Gravesian researchers. In the 1980s the journal was               
raised from the proverbial ashes by Patrick Quinn and retitled Focus on Robert             
Graves and His Contemporaries. The second Focus, unfortunately, also all-but               
folded, not having produced a new issue since 1996 and that being a 'best of'.             
However, a new journal was founded by Patrick Quinn and myself with the support             
of William Graves and the Robert Graves Trust following the centenary                       
conferences at St John's and in Majorca in 1995.                                           
The new journal, Gravesiana, is set-up on firm editorial and financial                     
principles with a strong circulation and subscription basis. Now preparing its             
sixth number, it has also provided a focal point for the organisation of a                 
Graves Society.                                                                             
Toward the end of the St John's conference, Dr Robert Davis suggested that                 
Graves Studies were becoming big enough that a society should be founded that               
would benefit both the members of the society and scholars outside the immediate           
and obvious community. Indeed, these web pages and the mailbase discussion group           
as well as the journal association with the society are examples of how Dr Davis'           
advice and initiative have seen fruition.                                                   
It should also be noted, for those who are considering subscription or article             
submission to Gravesiana, that the journal is peer-reviewed and that it                     
publishes the results of the latest research and reviews the latest books about             
Robert Graves and his circle. The index to the journal can be found on-line and             
back issues and off-prints are available by contacting: Dr Ian Firla.