MARCH 1938

Early in the month, Jenny Nicholson stops in to visit Graves and Riding before travelling to Liverpool. Once again Graves pays off her outstanding debts before sending her off with his blessing. But when Jenny's money troubles continue, Graves loses patience and sets firm limits: "Decision about Jenny: £4 when out of work, none when in, suspension of visits." Graves' contact with David seems more pleasurable; the two talk of David's university plans. And over a luncheon, Graves' mother introduces Graves to two brothers, Alan and Ernest York.
Other domestic intrigues keep the month lively. Norman Cameron's Austrian servant girl Mitzi is admitted for psychiatric evaluation, having apparently "gone off her head." Later, Graves writes that she is quite definitely "violently insane." Karl and Marie announce their plans to leave Graves and Riding, and Graves spends some energy this month looking for an appropriate post for Karl. Karl himself seems to be considering advertising. He also causes a minor stir later in the month by accidentally cutting off the tip of his forefinger. Riding and Maisie Somerville have a significant argument, for which Maisie "finally" apologises. Graves and Riding receive word from Spain that Juan of Moli was given twelve years.1
Evenings are spent with Honor and Gordon, Alan and Beryl, and Harry and Alix. Graves takes a few long walks with Margaret Russell, and later in the month Ethel Herdman stops the night.
Graves' primary project this month is the dramatic version of A Trojan Ending; he finishes a first draft of the play before the end of March. He also drafts two new poems: "Doing Nothing" (later called "Idle Hands") and "The Great-Grandmother." Belisarius is chosen by the Book Society as the book of the month for April, and Cassell's shows interest in the Dictionary project. Graves and Liddell Hart spend a considerable amount of time going over the proofs of the T. E. Lawrence book (T.E. Lawrence to His Biographer) on the phone and in person over lunch, where Graves is not at all impressed by Mrs. Liddell Hart, whom he dismisses as "very childish & hopelessly chaotic."
Throughout March Riding works with Len Lye, and with Norman Cameron on Rimbaud. This month she also finishes The World and Ourselves; Graves helps with the clerical details and reads over the manuscript, which is then sent to Watt. The two also work a bit more on The Swiss Ghost, and Graves begins to read over the proofs of Riding's Collected Poems. Riding, Honor Wyatt and Alan Hodge begin a new project - a play on peace.
Towards the end of the month, Riding and Graves hold a meeting of colleagues and friends "to decide on moral action to be taken by inside people: for outside disorders." The meeting results in the drafting of a "moral protocol," which Riding will work on for the next several weeks, with editorial input from various people.
Riding's health and sleeping patterns remain inconsistent. Graves often reads to her when she is not feeling well - this month from a history of the German Peasant Revolt. Graves' health is compromised as well: he has an impacted wisdom tooth removed, and the post-operative ache in his jaw lasts several days.
Throughout the month, the weather is unseasonably warm - the best March weather that England has ever seen, declares Graves. Solace the cat seems to be in heat (if the collection of loud, catty companions about the house is any indication). Graves continues to buy trinkets that please him. Over the next several weeks, he will make necklaces from restrung beads and present them as gifts to the women in his life: "Bought two 3d necklaces in the Church St. (Marylsbone) street market consisting of mahogony beads, red trade-beads, bobbin beads, Egyptian ebony and with the green Indian-jade made 3 necklaces." He also buys a Koran from his favourite book shop. He takes pleasure in finding objects that are personally interesting and delightful: "Walk up Marlborough Hill and then to the right: investigation of a group of houses under demolishment. Rescued a broken majolica flower-pot-holder from the cellar. Brought it back because it had pieces inside and Karl & I repaired it. Wrote a factual account of it."
But the entries this month have a brooding and reflective tone. Graves reports on the invasion of Austria, and one morning writes, "I was interested in waking up on the great gap between orders given by mind & the physical actions which seemed violent and disconnected."
There are two enclosures this month:

Editorial Notes

1of prison time? eds

Hands Referenced

Places Mentioned

  • Liverpool

    Liverpool, England
  • Church Street Market

    Marylebone, Paddington, London, England

People Mentioned

  • Jenny

    Nicholson, Jenny
    Jenny Nicholson: oldest daughter of Robert by Nancy Nicholson.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • A.G. (A.E.S.G)

    Graves, Amy
    Amy Graves, RG's Mother. WG
  • Ernest Yorke

    Yorke, Ernest
    also spelled "York"; a young officer eds.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Margaret

    Russell, Margaret
    House-keeper L.R. & R.G. had had in London. WG
  • Ethel Herdman

    Herdman, Ethel
    James Reeves' sister RPG; Assistant warden of Ashbourne Hall, Manchester University KG; nicknamed "Ether" by RG and LR, Sept 1937 eds.
  • Liddell Hart

    Liddell Hart, Capt. Basil
    War-fare expert and friend of T.E. Lawrence. Collaborated with RG on a book of T.E.L'.s letters, published in 1938. See RPG p.231. WG & Eds.
  • 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
  • Jessie

    Liddell-Hart, Jessie
    wife of Capt. Basil Liddell-Hart
  • Len

    Lye, Len
    New Zealand painter, sculptor, and filmmaker whom LR & RG had met in London. He helped with the Seizin Press publications. WG; married to Jane Lye, son Bix. eds.
  • 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

  • Book Society

    Book Society
    published the Book Society News eds.; same as the Times Book Club? eds.
  • Cassell and Company Ltd.

    Publishers of Robert Graves' Collected Poems [1938], and the novel Count Belisarius [1938].
  • A.S. Watt & Son, Ltd.

    Watt, A.S.
    RG's literary agent: first mentioned in November, 1935; team includes: Alexander Strahan Watt, and W.P. Watt et al, who may have handled different aspects of Graves' extensive European publishing and distribution. The firm replaced Eric Pinker. K.G. When did Pinker go, and why? KG
  • Editors

    Editors of the Graves Diary Project.


    • Title: Trojan Ending, A [novel]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: Deyá & London
    • Publisher: Seizin & Constable
    • Date: 1937
    • Title: Idle Hands [poem; was Doing Nothing & I Did Nothing eds.]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938-03-24
    • Title: Great-Grandmother, The [poem]
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A48
    • Date: 1938-03-28
    • Title: Count Belisarius [1938]
    • Author: Graves, Robert
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: Cassell
    • Idno: A47
    • Date: 1937-07-21
    • Title: Dictionary [projected project; unfinished]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1935
    • 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: Translation [prose: unpublished?]
    • Author: Graves, Robert, Riding Laura
    • Date: 1936-02
    • 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: The Swiss Ghost [formerly The Kind Ghost] [novel]
    • Author: Graves, Robert/ Riding, Laura
    • Date: 1937-04-22
    • Title: Collected Poems [1938]
    • Author: Riding, Laura
    • PubPlace: London, Toronto, Melbourne & Sydney
    • Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd
    • Idno: A35
    • Date: 1938
    • Title: Spectator
    • PubPlace: London
    • Publisher: F.C. Westley
    • Date: 1828-