Robert Graves was born in 1895 in Wimbledon, son of Alfred Perceval Graves, the Irish writer, and Amalia von Ranke. He went from school to the First World War, where he became a captain in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
His principal calling was poetry, and his SELECTED POEMS have been published in the Penguin Poets. Apart from a year as Professor of English Literature at Cairo University in 1926 he earned his living by writing, mostly historical novels which include I, CLAUDIUS; CLAUDIUS THE GOD; SERGEANT LAMB OF THE NINTH; COUNT BELISARIUS; WIFE TO MR MILTON; PROCEED; SERGEANT LAMB; THE GOLDEN FLEECE; THEY HANGED MY SAINTLY BILLY; and THE ISLES OF UNWISDOM. He wrote his autobiography, GOODBYE TO ALL THAT, in 1929. His two most discussed non-fiction books are THE WHITE GODDESS, which presents a new view of the poetic impulse, and THE NAZARENE GOSPEL RESTORED (with Joshua Podro), a re-examination of primitive Christianity. Graves also translated Apuleius, Lucan, and Suetonius for the Penguin classics, and compiled the first modern dictionary of Greek mythology, THE GREEK MYTHS.
He was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1961, and became an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, in 1971. He published a new edition of his COMPLETE POEMS in 1975.
Graves died in December 1985 in Majorca, his home since 1929. On his death The Times wrote of him, ‘He will be remembered for his achievements as a prose stylist, historical novelist and memorist, but above all as the great paradigm of the dedicated poet, “the greatest love poet in English since Donne”.’
Author photo: The William Graves Collection
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