The tenor of this month is dominated by the move to the Villa Guidi in Lugano, Switzerland, where Graves and Riding will spend the next four months. They leave London on 5 February, after a flurry of cleaning, packing, good-byes to family and friends, and the gift-giving that is so characteristic of Graves. (He presents Sally and Richard with nuptial chocolates in an inlaid pearl box from the Egyptian embassy; for Riding he finds a bird's-eye-maple and marcasite toilette case.) But the move takes its toll on both Graves' and Riding's health. Riding will feel tired and unwell throughout the month, and Graves will blame the exhausting travel preparations for his taking up smoking again.
At the same time, news from Deyá is not good. The political situation remains unstable, and Graves receives a request for financial help from Gelat. He sends £75 before he leaves London.
Once in Switzerland, Graves and Riding renew their friendship with Georg Schwarz and Emmy Strenge. They spend a significant amount of time flat-hunting before they settle on the Villa Guidi. The remainder of the month is spent working and decorating the villa with accessories and other creature comforts bought in Lugano and the surrounding villages. Lugano, remarks Graves, has "a great number of food shops, watch shops, lamp shops, knick-knack & leather shops" but "no antique shops, almost no china shops."
Despite domestic upheaval, the month is a productive one. While Graves expresses frustration with Korda (whose promised cheque for the Claudius scenario has yet to arrive) and with the fact that he doesn't have a film script to consult as he (re)writes the film version, he completes 90 pages by the end of February. Graves also works on his "Answer" to Riding's "Letter on International Affairs," and completes new drafts of "Before Bedlam" (later "The Halls of Bedlam") and "The Goblet." He adds four new verses to "The Country Mansion." On 24 February the American edition of Antigua, Penny, Puce arrives; Graves' only comment is that it has "an incorrect cover." Riding and Graves together review the page proofs of Epilogue III and Honor Wyatt's Heathen (which is sent to the printer at the end of the month), and the typescript of Hodge's Year of Damage. Riding works on Schools, and Graves presses Korda for a decision on the refugee film proposed late the previous year. Both continue to work long days and late nights, in spite of their general exhaustion. Their chief respite seems to be shopping excursions into town, or the occasional walk in the surrounding countryside.
News from family in England is not wholly satisfying - Graves receives letters from David, Sam and Catherine, but hears through Nancy that Jenny's efforts to find a job have not been successful. The weather in Lugano at the end of February is a depressing mix of rain and snow, which lends a dreary tone to the last entries of the month.
There are two enclosures this month:

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • Villa Guidi

    Paradiso, Lugano, Switzerland
    "half-house" rented by LR and RG (and KG?) eds.
  • Deyá

    Deyá, Majorca, Sp
    Town located on the northwest coast of Majorca, on the hillside between the Teix Mountains and the sea: this was RG's home with Laura Riding from 1929 to 1936. He returned there with his family after WW II. Eds.
  • Lugano

    Lugano, Switzerland
    near the Italian border, where RG and LR spent part of 1937 eds.

People Mentioned

  • Robert

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

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

    Graves, Sally
    R.G.'s niece. Daughter of his half-brother Philip. KG
  • Richard

    Chilver, Richard
    husband of Sally Graves RG
  • Gelat

    Más, Juan Marroig
    Juan Marroig Mas, called Gelat: Landowner on Deyá and friend of Robert Graves and Laura Riding (L.R. & R.G.'s factotum. W.G.)
  • Swartz

    Schwarz, Georg
    German Jew. Deyá neighbour. Antique dealer. Lived with Frau Emmy Strenge, his house keeper, in Can Caballo some hundred yards from Canellun. RG and LR translated his "Almost Forgotten Germany." WG
  • Strenge

    Strenge, Frau Emmi
    Schwarz's house keeper and ? mistress. WG
  • Korda

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

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

    Graves, David
    R.G.'s second child [by Nancy Nicholson]. W.G. In RAF; killed in the war. The only one of Graves' children who might have become a poet had he lived. K.G., eds.
  • 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.
  • Nancy

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

    Nicholson, Jenny
    Jenny Nicholson: oldest daughter of Robert by Nancy Nicholson.
  • Graves, Robert
    Author of the diary.
  • 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.


    • Title: Claudius [the film: based on I, Claudius, directed by Alexander Korda, starring Charles Laughton. It was never completed.]
    • Title: Claudius Film Version [The Fool of Rome] [a condensed novel based on I, Claudius]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Title: Letter on International Affairs
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: Chatto & Windus
    • Publisher: London
    • BiblScope: 15-19
    • Idno: A36
    • Date: 1938
    • Title: Halls of Bedlam [poem; was Before Bedlam]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassells
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1936-11-08
    • Title: Goblet, The [poem]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938
    • Title: The Manor House [ poem; first called An Old House; pub'd as The Country Mansion]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassells
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1936-11
    • Title: Antigua Penny Puce
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Idno: A46
    • Date: 1936
    • Title: Epilogue III
    • Editor: Riding, Laura/ Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: The Heathen
    • Author: Wyatt, Honor
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: New York
    • Publisher: Random House
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: Year of Damage [novel]
    • Author: Hodge, Alan
    • Date: 1936-12
    • Title: Schools [an international survey of education]
    • Author: Graves, Robert; Riding, Laura
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • Title: Refugee Scenario [working title of a screenplay for Korda]
    • Author: Graves Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1936-11
    • Title: Heraldo de Madrid
    • PubPlace: Madrid, Spain
    • BiblScope: 1800s-1900s