December is a month of Christmas preparations and family drama. Christmas shopping becomes a social affair (a visit with Mary Lucy to the Caledonian Market, an excursion to Regent Street, another trip to the Market with Alan and Catherine), and Graves indulges in his passion for gift-giving. He notes the details of his purchases, including two ostrich eggs for Alan at 1s. 6d. (apparently not the sum total of ostrich eggs for Hodge, who will receive another one from Karl).
Though time for serious work is short this month, Graves finishes the draft of the last chapter of Belisarius just before Christmas. We also learn that Alan's letter on Auden has been turned down everywhere it was submitted. Riding delivers a paper entitled "Positive Capability" at the English faculty library at Cambridge to an audience of between 60 and 70 people. She is still working on the "Letter Book" (The World and Ourselves); she completes the last section, leaving only three recommendations to write. She also completes a draft of a poem about Christmas.
Mary Lucy stays for the first few weeks of December. She, Graves and Riding discuss her husband John, whom Graves describes as "violent and homicidal." A few days after Mary leaves the couple's flat, she calls from Morecombe to let Graves and Riding know that she has left John with the two children and is now in Cumberland with Nan and Wilfred. Graves talks with the police and a solicitor about threatening letters that he and Riding receive from John Lucy. Maisie suggests having John Lucy certified as insane.
In visits with family, Jenny's debt problems once again take centre stage. Graves offers to write her a letter of introduction to Noel Coward in the hope that he will give her an audition. Although she is given the audition, Coward needs someone who can sing; Jenny doesn't make the cut. Catherine, David, Nancy and Sam (whose hearing is deteriorating) all visit this month as well. David finishes Christmas exams at Cambridge, and family and friends celebrate Amy Graves' birthday on 15 December. But the situation with Jenny soon becomes more of a concern: a few days before Christmas, both of Graves' brothers call to inform Graves that Jenny's name has been linked to one David Willmer, who has committed a violent robbery with three others at a hotel in Knightsbridge. Graves assures them that Jenny has had no recent contact with the man.
Despite these upsets the year ends on a high note: Graves and Riding welcome the new year with Honor, Gordon, Alan, Beryl, James and Mary Reeves, Sally and Richard Chilver, a few others, and a bottle of Domecq brandy.
There is one enclosure this month: a newspaper clipping - "Fined For Strike Meeting Speech" - about another Robert Graves fined for threatening words at a meeting in Bethnal Green.

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • Caledonian Market

    London, England
  • Regent St.

    Westminster, London, England
  • Cambridge [University]

    Cambridge, England
    University attended by RG's son David. eds.
  • Knightsbridge

    Kensington/Chelsea, London, England

People Mentioned

  • 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).
  • Alan

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

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

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

    Auden, W.H.
    British poet (1907-1973). R.G. disliked. eds
  • Laura

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

    Lindsay, Jack
    Lindsay was the eldest son of Norman Lindsay and author of over 150 books, including translations, novels, biography, politics and philosophy. He lived in England from 1925 until his death.
  • Nan

    Roberts, Nan
    wife of Wilfred Roberts, the M.P. for North Cumberland eds.
  • Wilfred

    Roberts, Wilfred
    Liberal MP for North Cumberland. A strong critic of the Nazi régime, an early opponent of fascism and appeasement, and a vigorous supporter of the republican side in the Spanish Civil War. (see article in The Times obituary column, June 1, 1991) eds.
  • John Lucy

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

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

    Coward, Noel
    (1899-1973), playwright and composer eds.
  • 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.
  • Nancy

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

    Graves, Samuel
    R.G.'s youngest child by Nancy Nicholson. C.P.& WG
  • A.G. (A.E.S.G)

    Graves, Amy
    Amy Graves, RG's Mother. WG
  • 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).
  • Gordon

    Glover, Gordon
    Married to Honor Wyatt. 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
  • 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.
  • Sally

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

    Chilver, Richard
    husband of Sally Graves RG
  • 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: Count Belisarius [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A47
    • Date: 1937-07-21
    • 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: Christmas [poem; see also Focus IV (1935) "Laura: Christmas" [poem]]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • BiblScope: 308
    • Idno: A35
    • Date: 1937-12-15