APRIL 1937

The war in Spain continues, and Graves and Riding are discouraged by the political developments in Europe generally. The month begins with a discussion of the futility of writing and publishing anything meaningful in the "face of dark-age opposition to anything good"; the month ends with the German attack on Guernica and the threat of war in Czechoslovakia. Gelat has still not been released from jail; another acquaintance - Juan of Moli - has also been imprisoned, for allegedly dealing in contraband fruit.
Continuing health problems, and Graves' uneven relationship with his family add to the dispiriting pall. Jenny writes from Cannes to say she is feeling better and enjoying her recuperation abroad, but needs money. Nancy writes several days later to say that Jenny is being difficult: she now refuses to come back from Cannes. Graves finds out later that Jenny has been accepting money from his brother Charles, without Graves' knowledge and certainly, from the tone of the journal entry, without his approval.
Graves' personal financial situation is also a concern. Though we learn that in three years I, Claudius has earned about £8500, money is nonetheless tight: Graves calculates his financial worth at the beginning of April 1937 at a little more than £1000.
But despite political and personal worries, Graves and Riding hope to return to Deyá within the next three months, and plan to go back to London in June. In the meantime, work continues on Schools, and Epilogue III is finally published. Riding begins to go over Norman Cameron's Rimbaud translations, and her Trojan Ending receives favourable press, including an enthusiastic review by Wilfrid Gibson in the Manchester Guardian. Riding's letter on Kierkegaard appears in the Times Literary Supplement, and she begins a piece entitled "Music." Graves and Riding begin to collaborate on a new book, tentatively titled The Kind Ghost (later The Swiss Ghost), two draft chapters of which will be written before the end of April. Later, we learn that Antigua, Penny, Puce has sold 2500 copies in the United States in a little more than a month.
Graves' excitement about his new poetry collection is evident throughout April. At this time we see "Smoke," "Moments in Never" (an older poem that Graves is trying to retrieve from memory), and several more drafts of "A Wounded Man" and "Hotel Bedroom." Graves also begins "Pledge to Strangeness" and "To Address Posterity." He completes a homily entitled "Tolerance."
This enthusiasm for new projects is tempered by the luke-warm reception of Honor Wyatt's The Heathen in America. According to Robert Haas the book is "not exciting enough" for the American public; he agrees to take only 100 copies. Also disappointing is the rejection by Oxford University Press of Graves and Riding's dictionary proposal, which the Press considers "too individual and personal ...words cannot be put into straitjackets." Graves' scorn is palpable: "Another example of tolerance of illiteracy for the sake of lexicographic richness."
Throughout April Graves continues to take pleasure in his walks in the Swiss countryside - with Karl and Riding, but also on his own. He speaks fondly of a walking stick given to him by Riding, made of snake-wood and with a silver knob.

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • Guernica

    Guernica, Basque, Spain
  • Cannes

    Cannes, France
  • 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.

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).
  • 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.)
  • Juan of Molí

    Mayol, Juan
    Owner of the Es Molí farmhouse. Involved in a local water rights controversy with the Señor of Sa Pedrissa, the Médico and others. R.G. records the on-going confict in his diary over a span of several months in 1935. KG & eds.
  • 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.
  • Charles

    Graves, Charles Patrick Ranke
    RG's brother with whom he did not get on. WG Estranged from RG in 1937 over Jenny Nicholson's crisis. See RPG p.281 CP
  • Norman Cameron

    Cameron, Norman
    Poet. Built Can Torrent in 1932-1933. W.G.; m. to Elfriede, then to Catherine Vandervelde; friend and contributor to LR and RG's work eds.
  • Rimbaud

    Rimbaud, Arthur
    French poet (1854-1891) whose work Norman Cameron translated with LR eds.
  • Wilfred Gibson

    Gibson, Wilfred
    poet and critic (1878-1962) eds.
  • Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard, Søren
    philosopher and writer (1813-1855)
  • 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.
  • Petter, Chris G.
    Project manager of text encoding and annotation.

Organizations Mentioned

  • Harrison Smith and Robert Haas

    R.G.'s American publisher for I, Claudius and Claudius the God. eds.
  • Oxford University Press

    Oxford University Press
    publisher eds.
  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: I, Claudius [novel]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Arthur Barker
    • Idno: A42
    • Date: 1934
    • Title: Schools [an international survey of education]
    • Author: Graves, Robert; Riding, Laura
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • Title: Epilogue III
    • Editor: Riding, Laura/ Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: Trojan Ending, A [novel]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: Manchester Guardian
    • PubPlace: Manchester
    • Date: 1919-1995
    • Title: Times Literary Supplement
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Times London
    • Date: 1902-1968
    • Title: Music [?]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1937-04-15
    • Title: The Swiss Ghost [formerly The Kind Ghost] [novel]
    • Author: Graves, Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1937-04-22
    • Title: Antigua Penny Puce
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Idno: A46
    • Date: 1936
    • Title: Smoke [poem: presumably "The Smoky House". See Complete Poems, Vol. II, pp. 82-83. (Check drafts in Buffalo for this title.) DW]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Title: Moments in Never [poem; later Proofs of Royalty; published as Fragment of a Lost Poem]
    • Title: Robert Graves: Complete Poems Vol. II
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Editor: Beryl Graves and Dunstan Ward
    • PubPlace: Manchester
    • Publisher: Carcanet Press
    • BiblScope: pp. 86, 313 (note).
    • Date: 1995-1999
    • Title: The Wounded Man [poem; discarded according to RPG (p. 270); Not traced. Apparently not published. DW]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Date: 1937-03-31
    • Title: Hotel Bedroom [Hotel Bed in Lugano]
    • Title: Collected Poems 1938
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd.
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1937-04-10
    • Title: Pledge to Strangeness [poem] [Not traced. DW]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Date: 1937-04-18
    • Title: To Evoke Posterity [poem] ["To Address Posterity" is a superseded title on drafts of this poem. See Complete Poems, Vol. II, p. 96. DW]
    • Title: Collected Poems (1938)
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938-11
    • Title: [Homily on] Tolerance
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Date: 1937-04-12
    • Title: The Heathen
    • Author: Wyatt, Honor
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: New York
    • Publisher: Random House
    • Date: 1937