DECEMBER 1936

Riding and Graves continue to work on Korda's refugee film scenario , but when they finally receive the contract from Korda, Riding isn't mentioned. Riding promptly writes to Korda to clarify the details.
Alan Hodge has completed three chapters of his novel Year of Damage , and is "manfully doing his 10 pages a day." Graves helps Bill Fuller to map out a plan for a legal novel that Fuller wants to write, entitled Greek Wedding. Honor brings over a typed version of The Heathen , and Karl works on a sketch for the cover of the book. Riding continues to read over the proofs of A Trojan Ending , and Graves reviews his T. E. Lawrence material.1
Jenny finally reveals to Graves how ill she is, and her medical care becomes a primary focus of the month, even though she doggedly continues to dance for the first part of December. But the "Jenny problem" is serious enough that Nancy Nicholson takes a flat in London for the time being, and she and Graves discuss their options. Graves informs her that Pat Moran has "deliberately tried to force marriage by blackmail." Graves and Nicholson settle Jenny's account at Curzon House and have her admitted to the hospital.2
Graves' mood is not improved by his general suspicion that he is "much too fat" and a "gloomy feeling that King Edward will abdicate" the throne in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Later in the month, after much public speculation, this is exactly what the king does. Graves and Mary Hale agree to stop smoking for one week. Though Hale quickly succumbs to her cravings, Graves writes that he has "no more appetite for cigarettes," although a few days later notes in the diary that he is smoking four cigarettes per day.
Graves visits Jenny almost daily in the hospital, and writes worriedly about "complications." He also frets that Jenny is "silly again about Pat Moran," and notes that "Laura talked her sensible, after tears."
The political situation in Spain does not enhance the tenor of the month; Graves writes that everyone is "waiting for Hitler to make up his mind."
But Christmas is coming, and with it a certain Christmas cheer. In spite of his worries, Graves seems to enjoy himself. Sam and Catherine visit, and Graves takes them Christmas shopping in the neighbourhood. Then Karl takes them to Ward Hutchinson to be photographed, and Riding takes them for more Christmas shopping later in the day. Graves and Riding "holly the flat," and enjoy Christmas dinner at Maisie's with Honor, Gordon, baby Julian, Alix and Karl.
Graves and Riding hold a New Year's celebration at the flat at 10 Dorset Street, and everyone writes New Year's resolutions for each other. Graves writes a New Year's letter to Jenny.
There are four enclosures this month:
  • 1. News clipping: " The King Abdicates."
  • 2. Handmade (joke) Christmas card for Laura from Catherine - [online indicates indecipherable; xl file indicates from Catherine - photocopy doesn't seem indecipherable to me] (xl file indicates December 12; online at December 11)
  • 3. Second handmade Christmas card for Laura from Catherine (print of a seal on a rock) (xl file indicates December 12; online at December 11)
  • 4. News clipping, Daily Telegraph , 31 December 1936: "A Memorable Year in Retrospect"

Editorial Notes

2Though in the diary Graves never indicates the nature of her illness, Jenny has gonorrhea, presumably contracted from Pat Moran. There is also a possiblity that she was pregnant. eds. See Richard Perceval Graves, Robert Graves: The Years with Laura 1926-40 261-264; Miranda Seymour, Robert Graves: Life on the Edge 247-48

Hands Referenced

    • Annotation: ink correction of BG tss
    • Character: schooled
    • Ink: red

Places Mentioned

  • Curzon House

    Mayfair, London, England
    Jenny Graves' lodgings starting September, 1936 eds.

People Mentioned

  • Laura

    Riding,Laura
    (1901-91) American poet. Laura Riding (née Reichenthal; then Laura Gottschalk).
  • Robert

    Graves, Robert
    [1st person]. (1895-1985). Poet, novelist, essayist, critic, and author of his diary. eds.
  • Korda

    Korda, Alexander
    Director of the film version of I Claudius.
  • Alan

    Hodge, Alan
    Oxford history graduate. Became close friends with LR & RG. First husband of Beryl Graves. CP & WG
  • Bill Fuller

    Fuller, William
    lawyer and researcher for Antigua Penny Puce KG; m. to Mary Fuller eds.
  • Honor

    Wyatt, Honor
    Journalist. Arrived in Deyá fortuitously. Married to Gordon Glover...Son Julian. W.G. First acquainted with R.G. and L.R. early in 1934; returned to visit in 1935; continued friendship in England. eds (RPG 211).
  • Karl/Carl

    Goldschmidt, Karl
    Karl Goldschmidt, later Kenneth Gay: Graphic artist, friend and secretary of Robert Graves and Laura Riding since 1934. R. G. spells both as Carl and Karl.
  • T.E.

    Lawrence, T. E.
    'Lawrence of Arabia.' Met Robert in Oxford in the early twenties. Made Robert his biographer and had him write "Lawrence and the Arabs." WG
  • Jenny

    Nicholson, Jenny
    Jenny Nicholson: oldest daughter of Robert by Nancy Nicholson.
  • Nancy

    Nicholson, Nancy
    (1899-1977) First wife of Robert Graves; married 1918, separated 1927, divorced 1949. eds.
  • Pat Moran

    Moran, Pat
    lover of Jenny Graves RPG (261)
  • King

    King Edward VIII
    Became the Duke of Windsor after he abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry Wallis Simpson. eds.
  • Mary

    Hale, Mary
    Welsh maid at Nottingham Place, sister Violet eds.; later, maid for RG and LR at Dorset St. "Laura pinched [her] from Kitty West" eds. KG
  • Sam

    Graves, Samuel
    R.G.'s youngest child by Nancy Nicholson. C.P.& WG
  • Catherine

    Nicholson, Catherine
    Catherine Nicholson: (1922- ) third of four children of Robert Graves and Nancy Nicholson. eds.
  • Ward

    Hutchinson, Ward
    Photographer. Contibuted to"Epilogue." W.G. R.G. often refers to "the Hutchinsons" (Ward & Dorothy) as a couple especially when they were staying on the island. eds.
  • Maisie

    Sommerville, Maisie
    Head of BBC Education broadcasting department. Friend of R.G. and L.R. Arranged accomodation for them when they returned to London as exiles. W.G., eds.
  • Gordon

    Glover, Gordon
    Married to Honor Wyatt. WG
  • Julian

    Glover, Julian
    Honor & Gordon's baby. WG
  • Alix Kemp

    Kemp, Alix
    Married to poet Harry Kemp. The couple shared a house with Graves and Riding in Ewhurst, Surrey (1937). eds (RPG 277); also referred to as Frau Eierman by RG eds. see Diary August 30, 1936
  • Goldschmidt, Karl
    Karl Goldschmidt, d.1995, who later changed his name to Kenneth Gay, was Robert Graves' and Laura Riding's personal secretary during the period when the diary was written. He later annotated another printout of the diary produced from the B.A. Graves transcript, which is at the Graves Trust Archives in St. John's Oxford. Notes by Karl Goldschmidt are denoted as KG.
  • Graves, William
    Son of Robert and Beryl Graves. Helped to identify names, places and titles in Deya (1935-1936) and with translations and other references in three ways. He left an annotated printout of the first six months of the diary in the Graves Trust Room at St. John's College, Oxford. He also sent Chris Petter an Excel file with a list identifying names and places, principally in the Majorcan sections of the diary, and a glossary of Spanish terms. Finally he has sent the editors answers in response to reference questions. Notes by William Graves are identified with the initials WG.

Organizations Mentioned

  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.

Bibliography

    • Title: Refugee Scenario [working title of a screenplay for Korda]
    • Author: Graves Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1936-11
    • Title: Year of Damage [novel]
    • Author: Hodge, Alan
    • Date: 1936-12
    • Title: The Heathen
    • Author: Wyatt, Honor
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: New York
    • Publisher: Random House
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: Trojan Ending, A [novel]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: T.E. Lawrence to His Biographer
    • Author: Lawrence, T.E.
    • Editor: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: New York
    • Publisher: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc.
    • Idno: A49
    • Date: 1938
    • Title: Daily Telegraph
    • PubPlace: London
    • Date: 1856-1936