The month begins with the arrival of a disturbing letter from John Lucy, Mary's husband, and a sad letter from Mary herself. John is apparently abusive and controlling (Graves hints at this in his July entries), and disapproves of the friendship that Mary has begun with Graves and Riding. The next few months will see John's behaviour become more threatening; in the diary Graves expresses concern for Mary's safety, as well as the safety of Riding and himself. Eventually the police will become involved and, with the emotional support of Graves and Riding, Mary will leave her husband and take the two children with her.
Graves' major writing project for the next few months is Belisarius. In October, however, he also completes drafts of three new poems: "The Absentees," "The Eremite" and a sonnet that he initially calls "The Young Captain" and which he refers to later as "Callow Captain." He also does a bit more work on "Galatea & Pygmalion" and The Swiss Ghost (earlier The Kind Ghost). October also sees correspondence with Random House about fees, and contact with John Buchan about the proposed dictionary project. Graves also begins reviewing Alan Hodge's Year of Damage with a view to shortening it, as both Constable and Heinemann have suggested that the novel lacks vitality. Later in the month and much to his surprise, Graves receives a call from the Sunday Express about his nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Graves remarks drily: "I made no statement beyond that this was the first I had heard of it."
Riding is busy throughout October - and for the rest of the year - with the "Letter Book" (The World and Ourselves). This month she completes the newspaper recommendation, the friendship recommendation and the education recommendation for "Part V" in The World and Ourselves. By the end of the month, she begins work on the last section of the book. She also sends a collection of her poems to Heinemann. But she suffers sinus trouble and head colds, which leave her tired and worn. Graves, too, suffers from frequent chills and headaches.
Graves continues to practise archery, graduating from rabbits to pheasants, "without success." Despite an early frost and the rain that dominates late in the month, Graves delights in a "walk in the mist through moist woods" - sometimes joined by Alan Hodge, Beryl, Riding or Alix and Harry. Mid-month, the group celebrates Alan's birthday, and Alan confides to Graves that he is thinking of marrying Beryl.
Another gathering of friends results in a communal sonnet (reproduced in the diary: see the enclosures for October). Norman, Harry, Alix, Riding, James and Mary Reeves and Graves each contribute a line or two - and then send it to the Times Literary Supplement as the work of "Thomas Lovell Beddoes."1
But while Graves and Riding and Karl and Marie (who plan to marry) begin to search for flats in London for the winter, and while Graves is cheered by news from Deyá that all is well, the general air of domesticity in the October entries is at odds with the political commentary that punctuates the text. This lends an undercurrent of foreboding to the journal, well suited to the end of summer and the last few months of 1937. Writes Graves:
" Sitting round coal-fire in room with purple carpet; talking of plans together, all of us. Basilisk sinks an Italian submarine."
And a few days later:
"Honor, L [Laura] & I talked in her bedroom & L read her friendship recommendation to us. Another 15,000 Italians to Spain."
There are six enclosures this month:
  • 1. Cutting from the Daily Telegraph: "Witchballs and Sea Serpents" by Graves
  • 2. Graves' page from a word game
  • 3. Photograph of David Graves
  • 4. A sentence game
  • 5. "Sonnet" A collectively written poem
  • 6. Cutting (perhaps from the Sunday Express): "Robert Graves and the Nobel Prize"

Editorial Notes

1British poet (1803-1849) eds.

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • 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

  • John Lucy

    Lucy, John
    Estranged husband of Mary Lucy; RG and LR are drawn into their marital problems. eds.
  • Mary Lucy

    Lucy, Mary
    Visited R.G. and L.R. at Ewhurst. An admirer of both Graves and Riding, but her marital problems brought tensions to their household. See diary entry January 2, 1938 (and K.G. note).
  • 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).
  • John Buchan, or, Tweedsmuir

    Buchan, John
    (1875-1940) The writer. Appointed Governor General of Canada. W.G.; Baron Tweedsmuir. eds.
  • Alan

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

    Pritchard, Beryl
    daughter of Harry and Amy Pritchard, R.G.'s second wife. Formerly married to Alan Hodge. Robert and Beryl had four children: William, Lucia, Juan and Tomas. eds
  • 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
  • Harry Kemp

    Kemp, Harry
    Poet. Met Graves and Riding through James Reeves in August 1936, just after their arrival in England. In their previous correspondence, Riding had been intrigued by his falling-out with Communism. He became associated with their circle, collaborating on various projects. (RPG 248-49)
  • 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.
  • James

    Reeves, James
    Schoolmaster, writer and Poet. Friend of Jacob Bronowski. W.G./ K.G.; m. to Mary Phillips; daughter Stella born June 14, 1938 eds.
  • Mary

    Reeves, Mary
    wife of James Reeves; daughter Stella born 14 June, 1938 eds.
  • 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.
  • Marie

    Goldschmidt, Marie
    Karl Goldschmidt's first wife. RPG 280-81. The couple met when Marie was employed as domestic help at Ewhurst (summer 1937). 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).
  • 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.
  • 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

  • Random House

    American publishers (New York) eds.
  • Constable & Co., Ltd.

    Constable Publishers. Arranged with them to print and distribute Seizin Press Epilogue and books. WG
  • Walter Heinemann Ltd.

    publisher eds.
  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: Count Belisarius [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A47
    • Date: 1937-07-21
    • Title: The Absentees [poem]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • Date: 1937-10-03
    • Title: The Eremites [poem]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1937-10-10
    • Title: Callow Captain [poem; originally called The Young Captain]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1937-10-17
    • Title: Pygmalion to Galatea [poem; revised July 1937 eds.]
    • Title: Poems (1914-1926) [1927]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: William Heinemann, Ltd.
    • Idno: A23
    • Date: 1927
    • Title: The Swiss Ghost [formerly The Kind Ghost] [novel]
    • Author: Graves, Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1937-04-22
    • Title: Year of Damage [novel]
    • Author: Hodge, Alan
    • Date: 1936-12
    • Title: Daily Express
    • PubPlace: London
    • Title: Letter Book [became The World and Ourselves]
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • Title: The World and Ourselves [former title: Letter Book]
    • Author: Riding, Laura [contributor; with Sally Graves, Sir Edward Marsh et al]
    • Editor: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Chatto & Windus
    • Date: 1938-11
    • Title: Times Literary Supplement
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Times London
    • Date: 1902-1968
    • Title: Daily Telegraph
    • PubPlace: London
    • Date: 1856-1936